Patum Peperium was invented in 1828 by John Osborn, when he was living in Paris. He launched it at two Paris Food Shows where it won its first award – praise indeed for an Englishman in France. Osborn’s original recipe was inspired by a dish the Romans enjoyed called garum and is a mix of anchovies, butter and a secret blend of spices to give the relish its luxurious depth of flavor.
The name Patum Peperium translates from Latin to mean ‘the pinnacle of birth’ and the subtext on the pot, ‘in mare internum’ relates to the Roman name for the Mediterranean sea which is where John Osborn famously sourced anchovies of the highest quality.
Following the success of the product launch, other Gentleman’s Relish imitations started to appear but, as Osborn decided to keep the spice blend a secret, none of them were comparable to the original, Patum Peperium. To this day the relish is still made in the same way and only one person in the business is allowed to know the full recipe for Patum Peperium with the secret being passed down through the generations from father to son.
Why was it also referred to as ‘Gentleman’s Relish’? Originally it was used extensively on and in savouries in gentlemen’s clubs, so when Patum Peperium was requested they would always add, ‘you know, the gentleman’s relish’. Today, Patum Peperium is enjoyed by people from all walks of life who are just seeking great taste. In 1998, to celebrate the 170th anniversary Patum Peperium, it was decided that the range would expand beyond anchovies to include an Angler’s Relish (mackerel) and a Poacher’s Relish (salmon).
Patum Peperium has been part of British heritage for over 190 years now and has been enjoyed by people all over the world – it’s even been eaten by James Bond in For Your Eyes Only and was selected as one of the 10 foods that Nigella Lawson couldn’t live without.
Gentleman's Relish is traditionally eaten thinly spread on slices of buttered white-bread toast, either on its own, or with cucumber or "mustard and cress" sprouts. It can also be added to minced meat for a different-tasting cottage pie or to the mixture for fish cakes, potato cakes and croquettes. Alternatively it can be melted into scrambled eggs or be used as a topping for jacket potatoes. It is an ingredient in the dish Scotch woodcock.
Patum Peperium has two additional flavour varitations: Poacher's Relish (made using salmon and lemon zest) and Angler's Relish (made using mackerel and lemon zest).
Patum Peperium is also available in collector's ceramic pots but are very rare and hard to find.
- "19 USES FOR GENTLEMAN'S RELISH (PATUM PEPERIUM)". foodzube. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
- The height of good paste The Telegraph, 28 December 2000.