Standing up for Mince on Toast
After American food website Eater published a recipe for good old-fashioned mince on toast, claiming it was a quintessentially British comfort food, Britons cried foul, that it had nothing to do with them. “What are you on?!” howled food critic Jay Rayner. Comedy writer Jack Bernhardt investigates Mince-on Toastgate for the Guardian.
“Mince on toast became the symbol for American misunderstandings about British culture. It was the food equivalent of calling Scotland part of England, or thinking that Theresa May was just the British Hillary Clinton, or pronouncing Leicester with a dozen extra vowels and ‘cesses’,” Bernhardt writes.
“If we were to rename it something fancy like ‘mince rarebit’ or a ‘croque minceur’, you can bet Rayner would order it at a restaurant – and he’d probably like the fact that it was served on a tiny triangle of bread with a teaspoon dollop of mince, and that it cost £17.95.
“Who among us has not dipped a single piece of crusty bread into a mince sauce and thought, ‘That’s not half bad’? You’re either lying or you’re a fool if you cannot see the hypocrisy of our mince-toast denial.
“And so it took a friend, an ally, to stand up for the maligned, forgotten mince on toast. New Zealand, land of lamb mince and friendly Hobbit-sized bakers, laid claim to the dish. With tears in their eyes, bursting with national pride, Aucklanders and Wellington[ians] posted pictures of their many mince-on-toast meals: breakfast mince on toast with egg; chilli mince on toast for the experimental; venison mince on focaccia for the New Zealand version of Rayner.
“The greatest insult to mince on toast, though, was still to come. Helen Leach, a history professor from the University of Otago, revealed that Eater was right all along: mince on toast was invented here, on these shores, discovered in cookbooks in 1865. Mince on toast was our baby. Unloved, unwanted, we turned it away, palmed it off to a friend like a sordid little secret. For shame, Britain.”
Original article by Jack Bernhardt, The Guardian, July 13, 2017.