Last week, one of my fellow Smart Women, wrote about going to visit a plantation that would be perfect for a setting of a book. She was right. This past week, I’ve been reading books by English author, Betty Neels. I love reading books set in England, historical or contemporary, or books written by English authors.

One of the fun things of reading authors from other countries is how they use words common for that country’s readers, but may be unknown to American readers. I often look up these words, just to see what they are, so for fun, I thought I would tell you some of those words.

Airing Cupboard: this is generally a closet, often a walk-in, built around the hot water heater or central heater and with shelves for keeping linens damp-free.

Gentleman’s Relish: an anchovy paste served on toast at tea time. I really thought this sounded yummy until I realized what was the main ingredient.

Harpic: You know how American books might mention a brand name product. This is a brand name for a toilet cleaner, around in England since 1929,

Toad-in-the-hole: believe it or not, this is a dish. Sounds grim, doesn’t it? But it’s basically browned sausage links baked in a flour-egg batter. A fast and simple dish.

Beans on toast: and this is just what it says…beans on toast. In 1886, Heinz Baked Beans hit the English as an exotic food item. Exotic enough to be considered breakfast food along with kippers and rashers of bacon. The beans in tomato sauce a literally spread on toast. Even today, they are considered a cheap protein food and as many as 2.3 million Brits eat this daily. One interesting note, in World War II, the single piece of pork in each can was removed due to rationing and was never returned to the Heinz sold in England.

Now, wasn’t that entertaining? Just goes to show, you never know what you’re going to learn when you read. Especially if you go that extra mile and look up the people, places, or words that intrigue you.



  1. I, too am a huge anglophile. I watch so many British plays and mysteries on TV that I find myself picking up their slang. I even learned what a Cream Tea was, and would love to attend one sometime.

    Great post!

  2. LOL, I thought of you and this post last night, Jackie, when I was watching Globetrekker in London. They talked about the Groom of the Stool — the servant whose job was to help the King with his bodily functions — and what a powerful servant he was.

    Never knew such a position existed and never would have thought people would be vying for it!

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