Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pyjamas - A Forgotten Pleasure

Growing up, pyjamas were a part of everyday life. I don't think there was a time when I didn't own a pair and they managed to see their fair share of wear on early weekend mornings and lazy snowy afternoons.

But as I got older, they seemed a bit old fashioned. They were the sort of thing you saw on old television shows where the husband and wife slept in separate twin beds, not the sort of thing you'd expect to find being worn in the current films of the day. So began to wear them less and less. Sure I still had a pair on hand, the bottoms being the only part seeing use, unless a girlfriend managed to steal a top when I was expelled to my couch in the course of an unexpected overnight stay.

But times change as do we. And as I grow older I find that those old pyjamas of yesteryear, still hold a very important and crucial place today as they ever have in my past.

Saville Collection Pyjamas from Derek Rose

Now, all pyjamas are not created equal. Even if they may seem essentially the same, there is a great range of style and qualities available. And there is something uniquely satisfying in wearing a pair of crisp well made pyjamas.

Derek Rose has been in the business of making gentlemen's nightwear in 1926, and continues to this day with the third generation of the family running this Saville Row based company. As a side note, it was Derek Rose which supplied the pyjamas for Harry Potter at Hogwarts in the first film of the film series.

My personal favourite is the Saville Collection Pyjamas from Derek Rose. Made of a lightweight cotton, it features a piped collar, pocket and cuff, a single breast pocket, side elastic only providing more comfort on the front and back due to the flat fabric, and deep hems creating the traditional weight and hang of trousers.

Derek Rose now also makes pyjamas for women, though a review of them is a bit outside my wheel house.

The great advantage of pyjamas is that you are dressed not only for bed, but for any unexpected visitors, either late at night or earlier in the morning than planned. I hurried trip to the curb before the collectors arrive is much easier when you need only throw on a dressing gown and shoes, as is answering the door to an unexpected visit by a tradesman on the morning of a forgotten appointment. In both cases you are still dressed, in many cases better than many people who leave their homes each day.

Those pyjamas of the past still do their job, and when a pair of quality pyjamas are given the chance today, they are really something still to be cherished and enjoyed.

More information about Derek Rose and their products can be found at Derek Rose.

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Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Gentleman's Relish

It's been said that I'm not the very adventurous sort when it comes to food. And this might well be true. I do love my comfort foods, those meals which bring back memories of my childhood and put me in the warm place of memory where our only cares were getting home before dinner time.

But as of late, I've tried to expand my horizons a bit. But I've decided to not do this in that conventional way most Americans tend to do, following the food trends from distant lands, either transplanted directly on our shores or somehow edited for the American palate.

No, I've decided to run the other way in this adventure, exploring my distant past with traditional English and English influence American foods.

This past December, while helping a friend prepare for a traditional hunt breakfast, I came upon a mention of a food, or should I say condiment, known as Patum Peperium or The Gentleman's Relish. Well if you know anything about me, you'll know I was immediately captivated by this condiment and wanted to know more. According to the company, the paste was so closely identified with the gentry, that people asked for Patum Peperium, adding, "You know, the gentleman's relish"

In 19th century London, Gentlemen frequented clubs which were the masters of the savory, Scotch woodcock, mock caviar and Magdalen College butter, all of which contained salted anchovies in one form or another.

Patum Peperium was created in 1828 by John Osborne. While living in Paris, he created this blend of butter, anchovies, together with a secret blend of herbs and spices. This recipe remains a secret today with no single employee knowing the entire recipe. Admittedly, even the sound of these ingredients might be enough to put some people off just by the mere description.

Then you look at the container, you will find, not one, but two warnings to use very sparingly. And once you open the container and see the muddy brown paste your olfactory senses are flooded by what one can only call a slightly off fishy smell. But don't let the initial aroma put you off. If you like caesar salad, then you would be well advised to push on and give this condiment a chance.

Served on hot toast is how the traditionalists recommend it be served, and that is just what I did, two pieces buttered and two pieces un-buttered. To say it is unlike anything I've ever tasted before is quite correct. But to say that the taste is offensive or long lingering would be quite incorrect. To be honest, it was a rather yummy and satisfying addition to the toast. Some might say it is an acquired taste, but for me, perhaps due to my taste for caesar salad, I found it rather pleasant, quite a bit more salty than fishy with a wonderful finish provided by the spices and I now look forward to enjoying it again in the very near future.

It is very rare to find a product on our store shelves today which can claim an uninterrupted history of nearly 200 years. With products that remain sometimes a few months, this longevity alone should be a testament to the quality of Patum Peperium and at least one reason to give it an honest try. At the very least, you'll have gained an insight into the food tastes of our past.

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