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Welsh Rarebit


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I went [to The Royal Mile Pub] in the other day and met the new owner. Looks like some of the servers and bartenders will be returning, so I won't have to re-introduce myself. I drove by again the other day just to see the sign. It makes me really happy. Too bad I work late on Friday, I'd love to go to the re-opening. It also means my wife will know who to call when she can't reach me at the brewery :)

Yea! Welsh Rarebit rides again!!!

Is there anywhere else in this town to get Welsh Rarebit?

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You say tomato and I say tomato.

You say rarebit and I say rabbit.

See the difference?

No but I'm a willing learner. Are you indicating that you prefer to call it rabbit? That's the part I'm missing - your preference is rabbit, and that's fine. Is there more I'm missing here?

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No but I'm a willing learner. Are you indicating that you prefer to call it rabbit? That's the part I'm missing - your preference is rabbit, and that's fine. Is there more I'm missing here?

The Brits pronounce it rabbit, but, of course, the Brits pronounce many words differently than Yanks. For example, Leister Square is Lester Square for Brits.

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The Brits pronounce it rabbit, but, of course, the Brits pronounce many words differently than Yanks. For example, Leister Square is Lester Square for Brits.

Roger. I checked with Google Translator and in Hindi, they call it वेल्श ग़ैरमामूली. I've never been to Hindonesia, so I'm not sure how likely one is to actually find this though. :)

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Roger. I checked with Google Translator and in Hindi, they call it वेल्श ग़ैरमामूली. I've never been to Hindonesia, so I'm not sure how likely one is to actually find this though. :)

The Brits brought lots of colonial administrators to their global empire but probably imported more cuisines than they exported. Good decision. Just imagine London with only British food.

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No but I'm a willing learner. Are you indicating that you prefer to call it rabbit? That's the part I'm missing - your preference is rabbit, and that's fine. Is there more I'm missing here?

So it would seem.

To-may-to and to-mah-to are the same word, variously pronounced. "Rarebit" is a ridiculous made-up word that occurs in no context other than "Welsh rarebit" where it substitutes for the older, traditional name "Welsh rabbit". As the sainted Henry Fowler wrote, "Welsh rabbit is amusing & right, & Welsh rarebit stupid & wrong" (this in the entry "True & False Etymology" in Modern English Usage). Of course, those who wish to be stupid and wrong are seldom dissuaded.

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So it would seem.

To-may-to and to-mah-to are the same word, variously pronounced. "Rarebit" is a ridiculous made-up word that occurs in no context other than "Welsh rarebit" where it substitutes for the older, traditional name "Welsh rabbit". As the sainted Henry Fowler wrote, "Welsh rabbit is amusing & right, & Welsh rarebit stupid & wrong" (this in the entry "True & False Etymology" in Modern English Usage). Of course, those who wish to be stupid and wrong are seldom dissuaded.

Ah, there it is.

The language police, angered over a word change that took place in the 1700s and is still fought by grammarians, including Fowler. They fight language changes, declaring them stupid - yet the most important feature of a language is the ability to adapt... and in doing so via the hands of the masses (not the grammarians) it becomes a better tool for communication, not a worse one.

I believe that nothing should be carved in stone regarding language...not grammer, punctuation, S-V-O sentance construction, any of it - least of all words. A grammarian's job is to describe how the current users execute their language and thus how new users can learn it...not prescribe. The concept that they'd prescribe Welsh Rarebit is wrong has about the same meaning to me as if George Washington declared that shrugging now means "I'm hungry" vs. "I don't know". Users are the only and best owners of a language and will collectively gravitate to the most effective communication method...and that's where "right" lives.

When I go to the Royal Mile Pub (or the others Mr. Rockwell has mentioned above), there will be Welsh Rarebit on the menu. I will order Welsh Rarebit. Welsh Rarebit will then be delivered. I will then enjoy the Welsh Rarebit. There will be no confusion or struggle with that transaction and there's no language change that could improve that transaction in any way.

If, however, you were to be seated at the next table and call it Welsh Rabbit - you're free to do so. It might not cause any confusion in the order. And the dish would probably arrive similarly. One of the fabulous tools that make a language flexible is to have alternate words, spellings, pronunciations and such.

Although in the minority using "Welsh Rabbit" to oder, it is certainly acceptable to order it that way because (and so long as) it works. If there ever comes a day when ordering that way doesn't work - well, you might still be right in Fowler's eyes. And you could maybe point to a book or quote that says you're right and that "Welsh Rarebit" is stupid. Regardless of how right you were, on that day you'd be watching me eat as I was able to successfully use the language of the day to translate my wants into a meal. Just as the person who orders in Hindi would be...100% right in their world...but going hungry in Wheaton. (I take it old-school grammarians can't break their game face for "Hindonesia"...no? I thought it was pretty funny.)

So it comes down to that. Am I stupid for using the name on the menu, the one that seems to be the common use? In the eyes of an old-school grammarian, I am. But as I don't care for the basic premise of old-school grammarian's work, I certainly don't care therefore who or what they think is stupid - and certainly not when their judgement of stupidity was declared about 90 years ago.

I'd hoped it was something simpler, like the Royal Mile Pub is calling it rabbit or something like that. Or that your preference is rabbit. But one of the calling cards of the language police is that dogmatic, black and white approach, one fueled by an undercurrent of "right is right" and wrong is...well...stupid. That's cool - I like a good fire and was happy to toss some logs on this one for you.

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Ah, there it is.

The language police, angered over a word change that took place in the 1700s and is still fought by grammarians, including Fowler. They fight language changes, declaring them stupid - yet the most important feature of a language is the ability to adapt... and in doing so via the hands of the masses (not the grammarians) it becomes a better tool for communication, not a worse one.

I believe that nothing should be carved in stone regarding language...not grammer, punctuation, S-V-O sentance construction, any of it - least of all words. A grammarian's job is to describe how the current users execute their language and thus how new users can learn it...not prescribe. The concept that they'd prescribe Welsh Rarebit is wrong has about the same meaning to me as if George Washington declared that shrugging now means "I'm hungry" vs. "I don't know". Users are the only and best owners of a language and will collectively gravitate to the most effective communication method...and that's where "right" lives.

When I go to the Royal Mile Pub (or the others Mr. Rockwell has mentioned above), there will be Welsh Rarebit on the menu. I will order Welsh Rarebit. Welsh Rarebit will then be delivered. I will then enjoy the Welsh Rarebit. There will be no confusion or struggle with that transaction and there's no language change that could improve that transaction in any way.

If, however, you were to be seated at the next table and call it Welsh Rabbit - you're free to do so. It might not cause any confusion in the order. And the dish would probably arrive similarly. One of the fabulous tools that make a language flexible is to have alternate words, spellings, pronunciations and such.

Although in the minority using "Welsh Rabbit" to oder, it is certainly acceptable to order it that way because (and so long as) it works. If there ever comes a day when ordering that way doesn't work - well, you might still be right in Fowler's eyes. And you could maybe point to a book or quote that says you're right and that "Welsh Rarebit" is stupid. Regardless of how right you were, on that day you'd be watching me eat as I was able to successfully use the language of the day to translate my wants into a meal. Just as the person who orders in Hindi would be...100% right in their world...but going hungry in Wheaton. (I take it old-school grammarians can't break their game face for "Hindonesia"...no? I thought it was pretty funny.)

So it comes down to that. Am I stupid for using the name on the menu, the one that seems to be the common use? In the eyes of an old-school grammarian, I am. But as I don't care for the basic premise of old-school grammarian's work, I certainly don't care therefore who or what they think is stupid - and certainly not when their judgement of stupidity was declared about 90 years ago.

I'd hoped it was something simpler, like the Royal Mile Pub is calling it rabbit or something like that. Or that your preference is rabbit. But one of the calling cards of the language police is that dogmatic, black and white approach, one fueled by an undercurrent of "right is right" and wrong is...well...stupid. That's cool - I like a good fire and was happy to toss some logs on this one for you.

I feel that our tiny community has been decimated by this argument.

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The language police, angered over a word change that took place in the 1700s and is still fought by grammarians, including Fowler.

Nothing to do with grammar. Far be it from me, though, to deny anyone the pleasure they derive from writing "nine 'til five" or using "infer" to mean "imply".

Speaking of pleasure, though, and rarebit too, you can download a complete archive of Winsor McCay's wacky and wonderful early 20-century comic strip "Dream of the Rarebit Fiend" here.

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OK, ok, I'm a man of reason. And in keeping with my philosophy of adaptability and change, I'm now on the side that the correct term is "Welsh Rabbit" and that "Welsh Rarebit" is a stupid and wrong name for a dish. As an eager new enlistee, I'm ready to take on the good fight. We've got a strong tide against us, so we'll need a plan.

  1. Don will need to change the name of the thread. We can't have wrong and stupid things gracing the cover of this forum.
  2. We'll need to contact the local restaurants and seek menu reprints. This could take a while and might require ordering the dich multipe times using the correct "Welsh Rabbit" before they own up to their mistake.
  3. We'll need to consider what other dishes/food names to add to this list. For instance, part of the argument against rarebit is that "Rarebit" isn't a word in any other context; it was just made up. I think, therefore, that "Banana" should be on our target list as well, as "banana" doesn't refer to anything but bananas. Sure, it's been used for 100s of years, but there must have been a prior name for bananas that would be better by virtue of being firster. If we can find no other such name, I suggest we use a word in its stead that has other meanings. How about "Rabbit" as in "I'd like a bunch of Chiquita Rabbits please." Eventually we'll want to eliminate all made-up words, as we all know God gave Moses all the words we'd ever need when he sent him off the mountain with two (Andriod based) tablets.
  4. I think we owe an apology to Black Hog BBQ in Frederick, as now we're allowing names to use words that aren't actually in the thing named. No rabbits in Welsh Rabbit means it must be ok there's no Black Hog in Black Hog BBQ. Rules is rules and right is right and wrong is stupid.

I'm excited and ready to make a difference.

Do I get a badge or a little spinning red light thing for the roof of my car?

Hersch - is all seriousness, it's cool. We disagree and poke fun but at the end of the day we're only talking about a mediocre cheese over toast dish that I may never eat again anyway. I'm just glad Al Gore invented the internet.

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This thread caught my eye because just last week my parents were talking about how their mothers never cooked fish when they were growing up, and I asked what they would eat on Fridays (we're Catholic). My mother said that my grandmother would often cook Welsh rarebit on Fridays. My brother and I found this astounding, because not only did my mother never make it when we were growing up, but the only place we ever heard of it was when Gomer Pyle ate it and, while sleepwalking, went into a rage at Sgt. Carter. (Maybe I should have posted this in the "Today's Dose of Culture" thread.)

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This thread caught my eye because just last week my parents were talking about how their mothers never cooked fish when they were growing up, and I asked what they would eat on Fridays (we're Catholic). My mother said that my grandmother would often cook Welsh rarebit on Fridays. My brother and I found this astounding, because not only did my mother never make it when we were growing up, but the only place we ever heard of it was when Gomer Pyle ate it and, while sleepwalking, went into a rage at Sgt. Carter. (Maybe I should have posted this in the "Today's Dose of Culture" thread.)

You'll like this.

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I always thought it was Rabbit, and then I ordered it, and it wasn't rabbit, and I had a sad.

The first (and only) time I ordered it in a restaurant, I was also expecting Rabbit, cuz that's what the menu called it. Just some sort of cheese sauce on toast. My thought at the time was, "I can make a perfectly acceptable grilled cheese sandwich at home for a whole lot less money."

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I don't think I would ever order Welsh rabbit in a restaurant. Any restaurant that put it on the menu would be likely to screw it up, seems to me. But a well-made Welsh rabbit is actually a very nice dish, and it's not a grilled cheese sandwich (which of course can also be a very nice dish). It's a cheese sauce served over toast, the sauce being made with sharp cheddar cheese, beer, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, a bit of hot sauce or cayenne pepper, and egg yolk. Hard to imagine not liking that if it's done right.

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But a well-made Welsh rabbit is actually a very nice dish, and it's not a grilled cheese sandwich (which of course can also be a very nice dish). It's a cheese sauce served over toast, the sauce being made with sharp cheddar cheese, beer, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, a bit of hot sauce or cayenne pepper, and egg yolk. Hard to imagine not liking that if it's done right.

Craig Claiborne's recipe in The New New York Times Cookbook is almost exactly that. And it's excellent.

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RAREBIT!!! I grew up in the North of England and never ever heard a single person ever call it "welsh rabbit". Don't take my word for it: A search on BBC.CO.UK Welsh Rarebit returns approximately 30 recipes, 5 food blogs and a dozen or so food related articles. Welsh Rabbit, however, returns a couple of articles about animal cruetly and theft from a zoo.

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