This British Staple Was Jane Austen's Favorite Snack

"It is impossible to do justice to the hospitality of his attentions towards me; he made a point of ordering toasted cheese for supper entirely on my account," Jane Austen wrote to her sister of her friend Edward Bridges (via The Guardian). The same way our friends today might make sure to have our favorite food when we come visit as a meaningful gesture, Bridges' meal-planning revealed one of history's most beloved author's go-to snacks: cheese toasties.

References like this paint a picture of Austen unwinding after a day of writing over what we in America call a grilled cheese, as does a recipe for the writer's preferred cheese toastie preparation in a book that will be released in June. This book is not some unfinished work from Austen, herself, but a collection of recipes and other household how-tos from one of Austen's closest friends, Martha Lloyd. Lloyd lived with Austen and her family for years and wrote her own "household book" between 1798 and 1830 (via The Guardian). 

Bodleian Library Publishing will be remastering Lloyd's household book as a color copy so people can see even the stained pages and authentic handwriting. The book's editor, Julienne Gehrer, told The Guardian that household books were "essentially the Google of the 18th-century household."

How to make Jane Austen's favorite cheese toastie

Although toastie vendor The Jabberwocky details a few very slight differences, according to this recipe on The Spruce, a cheese toastie is to Brits what a grilled cheese is to Americans: simple, easy, fast, comforting, irresistible. The cheese toastie's allure apparently extends at least as far back as Jane Austen's lifetime. According to The Guardian, in "Martha Lloyd's Household Book," the author's friend instructs: "Grate the Cheese & add to it one egg, & a teaspoonful of Mustard, & a little Butter. Send it up on a toast or in paper Trays." Of course, toast is the way to go.

"Martha Lloyd's Household Book" reveals the recipes for more of Austen's favorites, like the drink mead. Several years ago, The Guardian also wrote of the importance of food in Austen's novels like "Sense & Sensibility," "Pride & Prejudice," and "Emma," and connections can be drawn between these writings and dishes discussed in Lloyd's book. There are recipes for several French dishes, which Austen writes of enjoying in her personal letters, as well as having her character Mrs. Bennet be quite impressed by Mr. Darcy's supposed French chefs in "Pride & Prejudice."

Not every dish in "Martha Lloyd's Household Book" is going to translate today, or be all that appealing to try and make. Austen seemed to love a "white soup," which is meat gravy added to hard-boiled eggs, almond, and cream. A cheese toastie, however, is something anyone can get behind, and then enjoy while reading a favorite book in honor of Ms. Austen.