Patum Peperium

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat! As a stocking filler for “the goose” in your house who is notoriously difficult to buy for why not slip a pot of Gentleman’s Relish in his sock?

What is Gentleman’s Relish – also known as Patum Peperium (which looks like classical Latin but is more likely to be an invented brand!)?

John Osborn, an expat living in Paris, invented Patum Peperium in 1828  which he launched at two Parisian food exhibitions – at the second of which he won a commendation from the French!

Like our dear friend Marmite, Patrum Peperium has a strong, salty flavour which is  fishy on account of the anchovy content – around 60% – butter with added salt, some spices including cayenne pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon. It too is sold in low plastic pots with the familiar branding but also in classic little ceramic pots which are increasingly collectable as they are scarce.

The recipe of this iconic British product continues to be a secret known only to one employee at any time at Elsenham Quality Foods in Elsenham (Essex) – who bought it from surviving family in 1971.

Tea-time perhaps need less explaining for our British readers but for those further afield the role of this light meal – usually taken around 4.00 pm should not be underestimated. Space doesn’t allow an extensive discourse but suffice that it usually involves tea and toast and something on the said toast.

Gentleman’s Relish/Patum Peperium is traditionally enjoyed spread thinly on slices of toasted and buttered (preferably unsalted!) white-bread.

Many other advocates will bore you senseless with their particular recipe to which the addition of Gentlemen’s Relish will liven up even the dullest scrambled or poached eggs – including quails – welsh rabbit, Ceasar salad dressing – for those like my kids who are not fond of the salty little fish on the salad – and as an alternative to salt and pepper in a classic vinaigrette.

Really worth a try at £3.50 for the smallest pot from Fortnum and Mason online!




Photo from Fortnum and Mason


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I am an English trained and experienced lawyer. I have lived with my wife and family for nearly twenty years in the “California of Europe” - at the tip of Southern Europe. I am a proud European and driven to evangelize about the quality of life to be enjoyed here.

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