Forgotten Foods: reviving weird old food and figuring out what should be brought back


Beans on toast? How can Beans on toast be weird forgotten food?


So I’m a little confused: the piece concentrates on Welsh Rarebit, but the photo is another old standby: baked beans on toast.

Except, it’s a particularly unappetizing photo of baked beans on toast, which is actually quite a nice, simple comfort food. Think: tea time in the winter. Kids love it.


We must have been typing at the same time! Yeah, exactly: beans on toast will never go away.

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Forgotten in the poor abandoned colonies, cut off from civilisation, perhaps. Grief.


This sounds ridiculously tasty… but I’m not sure if my wife, doctor, or heart will kill me first if I ate cheese and sardine paste on toast.

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Not in the colonies I used to inhabit. Welsh Rarebit or posh cheese on toast as my mum calls it is a firm favourite in both Australia and the UK. I mean I probably would have died as a student with out it…


Lets not forget one of the modern takes on Welsh Rarebit (eaten fairly regularly in this house): Horseshoes!

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The UK is now a colony? Of the US?
Welsh rarebit (pronounced ‘Welsh rabbit’) is of course still a favourite; it’s cheese on toast, and if you want to make it properly you should grate the cheese and add a dash of Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire (pronounced Wooster, which is why Bertie Wooster is so called - saucy!) sauce. Some advanced types also mix in a little beer, before spreading it on toast that’s already been toasted, and putting it under the grill.

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Besides the beans on toast photo (we all seem to have thought the same on that one), beef tea? As in Bovril? Is this why football isn’t big in the US, can you not handle your bovril?


For me Welsh Rarebit will always be inseparable from Gomer Pyle.


Welsh rarebit is “weird” and “forgotten”? It wasn’t that long ago that I saw a prepackaged Stouffer’s version in the freezer section of my local grocery store. It looks like you can still buy it, although I’m not sure why people would bother with a microwave version of what they can easily make at home.

Heck, in one of his “Good Eats” episodes on cheese Alton Brown had a recipe for Welsh rarebit that made me seriously think about installing a fireplace.

Some of the genuine weirdness lost in our cuisine was discussed by Anthony Lane in his essay “Look Back in Hunger”, which mentions such things as Escoffier’s casual directions to “fry ten blackbirds in butter”. Now that’s weird, and probably best forgotten.


Just as long as nobody tries to bring back Chipped Beef on Toast. Blecchh!


Reminds me of my friends blog where she looks for olde timey newspaper recipes and then makes them.

There’s a recipe for “Baked Bean Rarebit” in there… it’s not straight baked beans on toast (at least, I’ve never heard of putting cheese, milk, and butter into baked beans).

I love it when brits try to convince the world that there truly terrible food is good. Mmmmm nasty canned beans on toast, How about some mushy peas with that?

Neither Welsh rarebit nor beans on toast are particularly common or well known in th US outside of expat/ethnic communities and various pubs that attempt to recreate the same from the British isles. So yeah from the perspective of a presumable American writer they’re weird and forgotten.

In my house, Shit on a Shingle never left. Apparently that’s what having a father in law who was in the Navy does… my husband considers it a comfort food and actually feeds it to my children. YUCK.


Welsh Rabbit is amusing and right. Welsh Rarebit is stupid and wrong.


My sympathies.

When times are lean, my favorite thing to do is mix steamed rice, black beans, and a few small chunks of roasted chicken together with a squirt of Sweet Baby Ray’s or KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce and just a half spoonful of chicken drippings for savoriness. Very tasty, very filling, and much less slimy.