Relish It (Or Hate It)

A pot of “The Gentleman’s Relish.”

Anything with a droll name like “Patum Peperium” suggests itself to the world of Harry Potter. Perhaps it could be something on the shelf of a pretty, enchanted, candle-lit shop in the picturesque village of Hogsmeade, Britain’s only all-wizard village.

Still, little would it strike the non-English, Muggle or not, as a vintage condiment.

Latin for “pepper paste,” it’s a blend of anchovies, butter, herbs and spices, which also goes by its other, gendered name, “The Gentleman’s Relish.”

I bought a pot of it last year.

Very, very, salty, it’s not to everyone’s taste, just like Marmite. To taste it at its finest, it must be spread in a paper thin layer across a slice of hot toast. As it melts and seeps into it, it douses the bread in a robust flavor that one can either relish or recoil from.

“The Poacher’s Relish.”

It was invented in 1828 by a Victorian gentleman named John Osborn. Today, it’s made exclusively by a company in Elsenham, England and its recipe is a closely-guarded secret, held from all but one employee. Another version, made of salmon, is called “The Poacher’s Relish.”

Originally, Patum Peperium was sold in nifty little ceramic pots with pictures of different birds—woodcock, partridge and pheasant—on the lids.


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