of Marmite

Tonight was a momentous occasion. Tonight I introduced my grandparents to Marmite.

You know. Marmite. That salty, smoky ambrosian spread with a bibbity-bobbity-boo effect on children in Commonwealth countries who smear it on buttered toast, turning them into muscley rugby players with awesome accents.

In spite of the convincing reasons I’ve just mentioned, Marmite has always provoked a violent love/hate response in the multitudes I’ve tried to convert. The haters are typically those so stuck in the clutches of Nutella addiction that they’re unable to open their minds to a chocolate-coloured spread with a yeasty, savoury flavour.

But I’m a lover. I love it so much that my maid of honor brought a large jar of it all the way from New Zealand to my wedding, and tucked it in my honeymoon getaway goodie bag next to the travel-sized bottle of Baileys and other…things.

Why love it? It’s an epic source of iron, folic acid, and other members of the vitamin B family.  A teaspoonful adds a secret richness and je ne sais quoi to soups, sandwiches, and anything in need of a darker base flavour. Probably because it tastes as though a pint of Guinness was condensed down into one potent spoonful of black goodness. Each morning, it transports me from my breakfast table to a dodgy pub booth.

Once upon a time, I lived in a in ramshackle Victorian house with an odd bunch of people who were as excited for their turn to cook dinner as they were to avoid cleaning up the communal kitchen afterwards. That night it was my turn, and I spent the afternoon brewing  a dark, sticky stew whose main ingredients were a clutch of sausages, several bottles of stout, a few potatoes, and a heaping spoon of Marmite.

It was heavy stuff, this stew. Hair-on-your-chest kind of stuff. It made some of my conservative teetotaler housemates very nervous, and me very proud to have unnerved them.

Think of the stew as something to work up to. If you’re new to Marmite, I suggest that you start gently by smearing a very thin layer on buttered whole-grain toast with a slice of cheese overtop. Chances are you’ll be seduced into the cult following and end up storing your embroidery floss in a Marmite cake box, like me.

So tell me — are you a lover or a hater?



{Retro print and cake tin images from Marmite}