It all kicked off after US website Eater referred to mince on toast as a “quintessential British comfort classic”, with many Brits saying they’d never even heard of the dish.
But Helen Jackson, a food writer and former food editor at the New Zealand Women’s Weekly magazine, has now said it is an “absolute rural classic” in her home country.
“Rural people used to have meat for pretty much three meals a day and you could heat up leftover mince for lunch or Sunday night dinner with buttered toast. It is something that has been around for ever, ” she told the Guardian.
Anthony Bentley, from Akaroa cooking school in New Zealand, agreed the dish is popular there and said he has never seen it anywhere else in the world.
“Mince on toast tends to be a leftover dish that you’d eat for breakfast or lunch the next day if you’d had a shepherd’s pie or lasagne base. Mince is always nicer the next day, it amalgamates the flavours,” he said.
“That is the usual way Kiwis have it - it would not be that common as a meal you’d start from scratch. The recipes of old school are popping up on modern menus these days, which is great because it is such a classic and is making quite a comeback in trendy Auckland cafes and the like.”
The Twitter debate started after Eater’s restaurant editor Nick Solares experienced the dish at The Quality Chop House, a modern British restaurant, butcher’s and shop located in Farringdon, London.
People had some pretty strong opinions on his description.
But nevertheless, head chef of The Quality Chop House Shaun Searley, who created the restaurant’s dish, told HuffPost UK that for him, mince on toast is a classic British meal.
“I’ve always lent on family heritage when it comes to food,” said Searley who grew up in Portsmouth.
“My grandparents and great-grandparents grew up eating ground beef and dripping on toast.
“They didn’t fry the bread in dripping like we do at the restaurant but spread it on bread,” he said admitting that he has adapted the meal: “But the essence of the dish is within what I remember growing up.”
“It’s the job of the restaurant to make primitive recipes more refined,” he added.
“That means taking great British heritage components - dripping, bread and ground beef - and putting it together. For me, that is a classic British dish.”
The one thing Searley disputed was the publication’s use of the word “quintessential”, explaining: “It isn’t now but it soon might be, especially after this has all taken off.”
Wherever this dish comes from, we’ll be giving it a go.