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 it’s first award – praise indeed for an Englishman in France. Osborn’s original recipe was a mix of anchovy, butter and a secret blend of spices to give the relish its luxurious depth of flavour. The name Patum Peperium means peppered paste but the product itself is more like a fish butter than a paste.
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, it was considered too strong for ladies, and too refined for the hoy polloi. 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.