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Rarebit (or Rabbit)

Cheese Dishes

Grated cheese blended with beer or milk and butter with seasoning (usually mustard), spread on hot toast and grilled. White crumbly cheese such as Cheshire or white Lancashire is preferred. Often served with brown sauce, Worcestershire sauce or tomato ketchup.

Variants are:
  • Buck rarebit: with a poached egg on top
  • Yorkshire rarebit: topped with bacon and a poached egg.
  • English rarebit: made with wine instead of beer.
  • King Rarebit: topped with a fried egg


  • The term 'rarebit' seems simply to derive from 'rare bit', with 'rare' in the sense of 'splendid', and is known to have been used of toasted cheese at least since 'Grose's Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue' of 1785 "RABBIT. A Welch rabbit; bread and cheese toasted, i.e. a Welch rare bit. Rabbits were also a sort of wooden canns to drink out of, now out of use."

    The supposed ability of rarebit eaten last thing at night to induce bizarre or terrifying dreams was used by Winsor McCay in his 1904 New York Herald comic strip stories 'Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend'. These witty morality tales introduced the character 'Little Nemo' who was later to feature in his own strip, in an iconic 1911 short animation and in the popular 1989 cartoon feature film.

    See:
    Cheeses
    Cheese on Toast
    Gloucester Cheese and Ale
    Gloucester Rabbit
    Toast
    Yorkshire Buck or Rarebit




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