Wednesday, March 29, 2023


My favorite morning choice to break fast is not American after all:
Americans have laid claim to “English muffins”, and you’ll find countless stories online that they were invented by immigrant Samuel Bath Thomas in 1880 and subsequently sold in his New York bakery. These are balderdash.

Yes, it’s true that muffins of the bread type (as opposed to true American muffins, a sort of bloated cup cake) fell out of favour over here in the 20th century, while thriving in Stateside supermarket aisles.

But versions of the nursery rhyme “Have you seen the muffin man” date back to the 18th century, and food writer Hannah Glasse has a precise recipe in her 1747 bestseller The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy, right down to instruction to split the muffin with your hands not a knife or it “will be heavy as lead”.

Still not convinced? Oscar Wilde has quintessential Englishmen Jack and Algernon squabble over the muffins in The Importance of Being Earnest, first performed in 1895. “Good heavens! I suppose a man may eat his own muffins in his own garden,” says Jack. Without being told they are American, he might have added.
Xanthe Clay, "Carbonara, English muffins, Caesar salad and other dishes that aren’t from where you think they are," The Telegraph, March 29, 2023.

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