Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Marmite, made to make your mouth water?

I think one of the most evocative things about childhood is the tastes you remember. Whilst Proust may have been a sucker for madeleines, it only takes the thought of an orange smartie, a fruit pastille or a sherbet love heart to get my mouth watering. After Eight Mints were regarded as the height of sophistication in my childhood circles. I was particularly fond of their individual envelopes from which if you were a child of criminal inclinations, you could cunningly remove the chocolate and replace envelope in the box to remain unnoticed until an unfortunate adult took an unlucky dip into what was by then a rustling box of empty envelopes. Another favourite staple was ‘Ready Brek’, a breakfast cereal that based on my memory fits into the gruel category, and whose advertisements featured happy children glowing in the dark with the type of radioactive intensity that would have today’s parents reaching for the Geiger counter. In retrospect this passion seems extraordinary as it has consistency of thin wall paper paste and much the same taste, though I suspect that the golden syrup that we were allowed to write our initials on top of the bowlful of the stuff may have had something to do with my fond memories.

Dependent upon your childhood nationality you either swear by Marmite (if you’re British), Vegemite (if you’re Australian) or just make hawking noises and generally swear (rest of world) when faced by what I regard as the ultimate comfort food. Based on the contents of our fridge I realise we are now the true bi-national family, split right down the middle in terms of our yeast paste allegiance in that I still eat Marmite, whereas the other savoury groupie in the house, Drama Queen no.3 hits the Vegemite when the toast pops.

Fortunately Marmite is readily accessible in Australia, though in a classic bit of rebranding it appears on Australian shelves as "My Mate",(APOLOGIES 'OUR MATE' - conclusive proof of my inability to read what is in front of me - thanks Luce for pointing it out!) thus removing the necessity that was a theme of our New York years, of instructing any guest from the UK to pack a large jar of Marmite and a couple of giant bars of Galaxy chocolate in their bags if they wanted any room at the inn.

Nigella Lawson includes a recipe for marmite sandwiches in her book, ‘How to Eat’. Her description of mixing marmite with butter before spreading it on white bread was enough to have me uttering moans of nostalgic greed, as good quality white bread and marmite is enough to reduce me to a Mastermind moment for those of you who are my British vintage, in that like Magnus Magnusson, I feel a “I’ve started, so I’ll finish’ compulsion coming over me and the loaf of bread vanishes quick smart.

1 comment:

  1. Have literally just eaten that with Amy (home sick from school) on fresh white warm baguette, for our lunch yummmmmmmmmmmmmmm, also its not MY MATE in Aus its OUR MATE! look at your photo you klutz!