Gentleman's Relish, Patum Peperium, Anchovy, Anchovial, Fortnum & Mason, Fortnum and Mason, AB World Foods, G Costa Foods, Tabasco, Maille, Victorian England, English, British, Britain, Great Britain, Traditional British foods, Mrs. Breeton's Book of Household Management, Welsh Rarebit, The British Food Trust, Fortnum's Relish Anchovial Alchemy, Ceramic pots.


Anchovies tend to reveal strong reactions in people. And sometimes you can change those beliefs with the mild, almost sweet, tasting boquerones - the marinated white anchovies found in tapas bars. Patum Peperium The Gentleman’s Relish is not one of these products though. It’s fishy, it’s salty, it’s a strong anchovy paste.

It’s a distinctly English product and many a Brit can remember growing up with the ceramic pots of Gentleman’s Relish in the fridge - it always seemed to have an air of the grown-up about it. The recipe has been a secret since it was created in 1828 by John Osborne. There’s only a single company licensed to make Gentleman’s Relish. Elsenham Preserves for a long time was that company and the recipe was passed down by word of mouth. Since 2001, that right has been owned by G Costa foods or AB World Foods, who surprisingly also own a number of specialty products, including Tabasco, Maille, Nielsen Massey.

Gentleman’s Relish is made from Salted Anchovies (60%), Butter, Salt, Rusk, Herbs, Spices. So, it’s a unique anchovy butter. It’s traditionally “sparingly” spread on buttered toast, maybe with a slice of cucumber, and enjoyed with a cup of tea. And there’s a reason that’s what most recommendations say first: it really works well. Just try it on a winter’s afternoon after walking around in the cold. It has a delightful warming feeling.

You have other options though: use it in dishes that call for salted anchovies, such as fish cakes or casseroles or make the Victorian dish, Scotch Woodcock. Scotch Woodcock is similar to Welsh Rarebit, and consists of adding softly scrambled eggs on toast spread with Gentleman’s Relish. It used to be served in the refreshment rooms at the House of Commons. The recipe was discussed in Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, excepts of which can be found here. The following recipe was found at The British Food Trust, a wonderful resource for all kinds of British recipes.

Scotch Woodcock Recipe

Recipe courtesy of The British Food Trust


4 portions


- 4 large slices bread, toasted, crusts removed and buttered

- 15 grams butter ( 1/2 oz)

- Gentleman's Relish or anchovy paste

- 150 ml milk (5 fl oz)

- 4 eggs

- Large pinch cayenne pepper

- 2 x 50 gram cans anchovies, drained (2 oz)


1. Cut the pieces of toast in half and spread with Gentleman's Relish.

2. Melt the butter in a pan.

3. Whisk together the milk, eggs and cayenne pepper, then pour into the pan.

4. Stir slowly over a gentle heat until the mixture starts to thicken.

5. Remove from the heat and stir until it is creamy.

6. Divide the mixture between the toasts.

7. Top with the anchovy fillets, arranged in a criss-cross pattern.


You can also find some alternatives to the Gentleman’s Relish Patum Peperium. One is Poacher’s Relish, also produced by the same company, but is made with smoked salmon fillets and lemon zest. Fortnum & Mason sell their own rendition called Fortnum’s Relish Anchovial Alchemy. It’s quoted as having “an armada of superior anchovy.” It’s a similar anchovy spread, has more peppery notes and comes in a classic old style ceramic pot.

Once you try this unique spread, you might not have grown up British, but you’ll always have a pot of Gentleman’s Relish in the fridge.


Where to buy and read about Gentleman’s Relish.


Recommended By

- Chef Linton Hopkins (Holeman & Finch Public House in Atlanta, GA)


F.E.D. Travel Guides
Find a travel guide »../../../../../guide/download_guides.html../../../../../guide/download_guides.htmlshapeimage_24_link_0