Friday, February 7, 2014

…many's the long night I've dreamed of cheese--toasted, mostly

In Treasure Island, the character Ben Gunn pines for cheese after been marooned for years. Specifically he says he dreams of toasted cheese. But what is toasted cheese? I posed this question to the Culinary Historians of New York and chairperson Cathy Kaufman was kind enough to respond:
Toasted Cheese is another name for Welsh or Cheese “Rarebit” (aka “Rabbit”), basically lightly toasted bread covered with thin slices of cheese that have been soften with wine and spiced with mustard. The softened cheese is put on top of the bread and placed under a salamander to brown. You can see the relationship to grilled cheese, but the dish is different.
So there you have it, it’s Welsh Rarebit, not a grilled cheese sandwich. We’ll all have to keep this in mind if we have a Treasure Island themed party.

Dr. Livesey happens to keep a piece of parmesan cheese in his snuff box, and it is implied that this is given to Ben.

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