Monday, December 22, 2008

Welsh Rarebit

For as long as I can remember, my mother has made a bizarre dish called Welsh Rarebit. For our American purposes, it involves melted cheese over crumbled saltines and ...um, yeah. That's pretty much it. It's one of my Dad's favorite meals and my brothers too.

So, for the second year in a row, my mother whipped a batch of this odd little dish and the men in my family went nuts. My Dad got so excited, we had to make an additional trip to retrieve extra crackers.

It involves crumbling an innocent stack of Premium saltines into a bowl. Next step, gently ladle a giant gob of melted cheese (flour, butter, Velveeta, dry mustard, tobasco, dried onion, worcester, milk) atop. If feeling racy, one could add a few pickle chips. It's like White Trash Stew.

>Sure, I always ate it but was never a fan. Mom is a great cook and I have many favorites but this wasn't one of them. She was merely giving in to one of my father's boyhood requests. I'd always assumed that it only strange enough to be found in our house but I was wrong.

Apparently, Welsh Rarebit can be traced back to 1725 - who knew? (God bless Wikipedia.) It was an ironic name coined in the days when the Welsh were notoriously poor. Only rich people could afford butcher's meat and while in England rabbit was the poor man's meat - in Wales, the poor man's meat was cheese. Welsh peasants were not allowed to eat rabbits caught in hunts on the estates of the nobility, so they used melted cheese as a substitute. Somehow, they also mangled the word itself and "rarebit" came into usage

Grandma Beth brought back the recipe from a Chicago restaurant, where she'd had as an appetizer. Believe it or not, it had evolved into a dainty delicacy. Thankfully, the Clisbys came along and restored it its original blue collar status.

And now, I give you a man in a full state of JOY:

5 comments:

hotdrwife said...

I find that last photo to be absolutely delightful!!

There's something to be said for family recipe/comfort foods.

ClizBiz said...

Yes, though pushing it through the digestive system takes some patience.

vlib said...

My father, raised dirt-floor poor, also loved this dish, although we used old bread, not crackers (which we never bought, but my mother spirited out of the rare restaurant they visited...) This all reminds me of Sam's latest favorite joke: Why do penguins never go to the UK on vacation? Because they are afraid of "whales"! Enjoy the bayou!

fyrchk said...

I feel like I've missed out on something. Thinkin' I must try this.

Heidi's heart said...

That's wonderful, Heather, that you got to spend two weeks in Mississippi with both your parents together. Another testament to the fact that healing is possible.