3rd Sep 2021 | Food
Here at Zorba, we love tasty food, and we love Wales. So, we couldn’t let National Welsh Rarebit Day (3rd September) pass without celebrating the two.
We’ve been based in South Wales for over 20 years now and employ over 300 staff, so it’s fair to say we are fond of one of the country’s national dishes!
Welsh Rarebit dates back several hundred years before our arrival.
Originally given the jocular title of Welsh Rabbit, it has changed over the years to signify there is no rabbit involved and Welsh Rarebit has now melted the hearts of food lovers across the world.
The starting point is a white bloomer or hearty grain bread cut thick to support the toasted cheese sauce on the top without going soggy.
The cheese is down to personal choice but for a true Welsh taste try Hafod or Teifi. Then comes the twist that raises Welsh Rarebit a league above a cheese toastie. Beer, stout, milk, Worcestershire sauce and mustard are traditional elements combined with the cheese to make the sauce, but there’s been plenty of variations over the years.
Wales is a country steeped in myths and legends so it is fitting that another rumoured quality of Rarebit is its ability to inspire vivid dreams if eaten before bed.
The author Harle Oren Cummins recounts that his 1902 collection of short stories arose after he attended a meeting of his local book club and they had rarebit for supper. Each of them then experienced dreams ranging from the fantastic to the macabre which were collected and printed as “Welsh Rarebit Tales”.
A couple of years later the New York Herald began publishing a comic strip by Winsor McCay titled “Dream of the Rarebit Fiend”. The strip had the recurring theme of someone eating rarebit and then experiencing a dark dream.
Is there any factual basis to suggest Welsh rarebit can induce such experiences? Well a scientific study suggests yes – though it’s likely to be down to the cheese you choose.
In a 2005 study, 200 people were given cheese to eat before bedtime. The results suggested cheese helped the majority to enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep which included dreams – no-one reported suffering a nightmare.
One of the amino acids in cheese – tryptophan –has been shown to reduce stress, balance hormones and induce sleep.
Meanwhile the vitamin B6 present in cheese increases the level of Serotonin in your body, which may cause dreams to be more vivid and improve your memory, helping you to remember them
So, remember, for a good night’s sleep, sweet dreams are made of cheese.