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Flame bait

Let's see ...

We've done "Dr Who is shite". Ditto "I hate Star Trek (and all your other crappy TV shows)". I've poked the hornet's nest that is the P7[*] in SF fandom, albeit very gingerly. I've sent the space settlers' society to bed without their dinner a couple of times, railed against the Deep Greens with a side-swipe at the Conservatives and the Libertarians along the way — there's no point whacking the dead equine of Communism this decade — so who's left to persecute in the name of controversy (and higher reader ratings)?

I know. It's time to really say something controversial! And it is this:

I like Marmite and Vegemite!

Note to American readers: Marmite is what I (being a Brit) grew up with. If you brew beer on a commercial scale, when you drain the fermenting vessel you end up with a scum of dead and dying yeast cells on the side. Some time in the late 19th century, rather than treating this as waste, some nameless genius had the idea of tasting it. It turns out that brewer's yeast, once you lyse the cells by adding salt, tastes remarkably savoury — somewhat like soy sauce, only thicker (with much the same consistency as non-set honey). Marmite, the product, is mostly yeast extract, combined with salt and a few additional spices. It's what belongs on toast, or cheese, or in gravy and sauces to add body to them. And the stuff's addictive. I get through it in catering-tub quantities, alas: it's my one real high sodium vice.

Vegemite ... it's the antipodean antithesis. Invented in 1922 by Dr Cyril P. Callister in Australia, it was designed to plug the strategic gap opened by unrestricted U-boat warfare against the vital British Marmite convoys that had kept the colonies supplied during wartime — or something like that. Kraft popularized it, pushed it into military rations during the second world war, and over a decade clawed back sales from Marmite until it's now the favourite toast topping down under. The recipe differs somewhat from Marmite, as does the flavour — just enough that if you're used to one, the other tastes slightly "off" — too flat, or too astringent.

If you want to really liven up a party, pour a small jar of Marmite into the fruit punch — or add Vegemite to the dog's bowl (as long as you don't mind being asked to clean up afterwards). Hours of friendly discussion and informed debate can be provoked by discussing the relative merits of the two products! And it's always a good idea to introduce visiting American guests to what they've been missing all these years, by exhorting them to spread it on their bread "just like peanut butter".

Mind you, even if you don't like the stuff there's one thing it's good for: if you bake bread (by hand or in a bread machine), it never hurts to add a teaspoonfull of Marmite to the mix. It makes the crust slightly harder and darker, and adds a marvelous nutty malty taste to the loaf. (But remember to reduce the amount of salt you use accordingly.)


([*] The P7 are the ruling conspiracy of the age: Pale Patriarchal Plutocratic Protestant Penis People of Power.)

158 Comments

1:

"Some time in the late 19th century, rather than treating this as waste, some nameless genius had the idea of tasting it."

Not quite. The process for turning lees into yeast extract was invented in the 19th century by Justus Leibig (a German, oh noes!). He also invented the beef extract that yeast extract replaced.

2:

Blasphemer! Burn him!

Actually, I'm more or less the same. I prefer vegemite to marmite, but both are fine.

One thing Marmite is definitely better for is cooking with rather than as a spread on its own. As well as the suggestion about bread (which is a really good idea by the way. I hadn't thought of that), it's great in sauces and stews.

3:

Someone has to mention marmite straws - surplus puff-pastry spread thinly with marmite, optionally sprinkled with grated cheese, cut into thin fingers and baked. Omnomnomnomnom. (I have no idea how this works with vegemite, but I suspect the result is indistinguishable to the untrained palate once the cooking has broken down some of the proteins :)

4:

Also,
Marmite is a nice gift to anyone after a visit to Britain. And if they hate it: even better. You thought of them and you get to keep it. Great stuff!

Heading ot to hunt for this mysterious "vegemite"...

5:

Hmmm, still trying to think of how to twist this topic into a discussion about American Healthcare policy. I'll get back to you when I have something :)

6:

Ben: (1) It's not the "American healthcare debate"; it's the "American health insurance restructuring debate". Put it in the right frame and the insane arguments make a lot more sense.

(2) I hereby declare this blog to be an American healthcare debate-free zone, at least for the next couple of months. That way, we're free to invent our own sucking vortex of insanity.

7:

A few years back my friend had recently returned from Australia and I was catching up with him at his house.

Being a nice guy, he hands me a sandwich with a rich brown spread and says "I made you some Nutella!" I love Nutella. So I take a huge bite and begin to chew with pleasure, which quickly turned to horror as I realized that Nutella is not salty, has a different texture, and actually tastes good.

It was a Nutella/Vegemite bait and switch! I swore never to touch the foul substance again.

Although I do admit that the bread idea sounds good.

8:

On moving to Canada from the UK in the 70's, my sister felt it necessary to invent the toasted peanut butter and Marmite open-faced sandwich. It was a staple in the packed lunch she took to school. I refused to have anything to do with her mid-Atlantic nonsense. Looking back on it, I can only presume there was some horrible deficiency in her diet.

9:

I now have a strong urge to eat twiglets - crunchy marmite flavoured sticks - nom!

I hereby predict that the flames will come for suggesting that people poison cute wuffy dogs with the stuff...

10:

Despite being an Australian, I hate both spreads.

11:

Kraft popularized it, pushed it into military rations during the second world war

...where it has now returned, rather to everyone's surprise, in a little brown toothpaste tube.

12:

Charlie said: And it's always a good idea to introduce visiting American guests to what they've been missing all these years, by exhorting them to spread it on their bread "just like peanut butter".

Argh! That happened to me once. I was visiting a friend, and her kids thought they'd be nice to me and make me Marmite on toast for breakfast as they knew I liked it. Only problem was, they didn't eat Marmite themselves, so spread it *just* like peanut butter. It's really difficult trying to smile and tell young kids how much you appreciate their kindness when your mouth is imploding due to salt overload. I did ask for a second cup of tea in quite a hurry.

13:

I've never had either, but I had an Australian coworker who loved both. She would never try peanut butter though... that and Marshmallow Fluff.

14:

I heard somewhere that for a glorious few years in the 20s, Vegemite was renamed "Parwill" simply to support the tagline "Marmite but "Parwill". Can advertising ever have sustained such a spirit of innocent glee?

Marmite has no substitute when you need a recalcitrant cat to swallow a tablet.

15:

In the UK there was a pseudo science tv feature on how marmite was made last year. Think it was on 5, and had top gear presenter or something like that.

16:

I've never tried either marmite or vegemite, but I've always really liked anchovies on toast, so I assume I'd probably like either spread.

17:

Of course, Vegemite is only incidentally a foodstuff. Its real use in Australia is as a drop bear repellent.

Further info: there is also Antipodean spec Marmite, even worse than Vegemite for those brought up on the real thing. UK spec Marmite appears Down Under in jars labelled 'Our Mate', so that we relocated Poms can feed our habit.

18:

Alison@9. I love Twiglets, but I cannot get them in the stores in the US. Maybe I can order them online...

19:

Heh. I think I encountered vegemite years and years ago... did not care for the stuff in the least (in my defense, I was about ten at the time and was not particularly attracted to odd-tasting items).

Now, the marmite-in-bread-dough idea is something I may just have to try. I have been baking my own bread off and on for the last year and a half (I am in Nashville, TN... and what passes for good bread here is sad and pathetic when it is not staggeringly expensive). Now, where to get marmite in the South...

20:

You would not believe the vast stockpile of Marmite that Scott Base and McMurdo have. One might think they're afraid that the RNZAF and NZ Antarctic Program will wither and die in this remote place.

Amundensen-Scott South Pole Station, by contrast, has merely one air freight pallet of Vegemite. Legend has it that this same pallet has been there since the International Geophysical Year in 1957.

21:

Bleurgh. Can't stand Marmite, but Bovril is truly the Ambrosia of the Gods.

22:

But how about Promite?

B>

23:

A couple of American colleagues of mine tried Marmite on a visit over here. They both hated it but...The next time one of us UK based people were visiting, they insisted we bring some Marmite crisps and Twiglets. They then spent a fortnight talking up how fabulous it was before it arrived. I believe that no one in the office would speak to them for quite a while afterward.


24:

I introduced Marmite to villagers in the highlands of Uganda. They thought I was poisoning them....

25:

Bovril is truly the Ambrosia of the Gods.

Bovril to Snoopy in three steps. Go!

26:

I got to know one of my best friends when I was visiting a town in eastern Europe and a work colleague asked me to take a jar of Marmite to her sister who was living there on a long research project.

This makes me feel inaccurately warm towards it seeing as I can only actually bear the stuff diluted with margarine in a practically homeopathic concentration.

27:

I don't quite get the problem of spreading Marmite like peanut butter - I prefer it that way. And does anyone else like Vitam - another yeast extract spread, slightly less corrosive than Marmite? Thanks, Charlie, for the tip of adding Marmite to bread dough - I'll try it.

28:

I too will happily eat either (of the antipodean versions), but don't use much. There have been cheese & Marmite flavoured chips (BrE crisps). The local supermarket has a decent 'UK food' section, presumably to supply immigrants and those that got a taste for various things while on their OE, I must look for 'Our Mate'.

29:

I'm trans-marmite.
Sometime I like it, sometimes I don't.
as for vegemite, dunno. sounds like devil-spread to me.

30:

I think Marmite/Vegemite is one of those products that is an acquired taste, like beer. I've seen people in the US subjected to the product (thinly spread correctly) and just looking disgusted after tasting it.

It is sold in some US grocery stores in the SF Bay Area, but I suspect it is sold purely for transplants who pine for such old country flavors.

While I did eat Marmite as a kid in the UK, I have pretty much lost my taste for it, and I wouldn't eat it today. It's one of those old post WWII foods that food writer Nigel Slater does such a good job with, reminding us of its context, while we shudder at eating them today.

31:

I'd like to note in passing that I have a particular yen for the Marstons Pedigree limited edition, although the Champagne yeast variety is bogging (and fit only for bread-making). I have yet to try the Guinness version, but I have a low opinion of Guinness ... about the only stout I actually like is Titanic's seasonal with chocolate and vanilla.

Now, Marmite-flavoured beer, that'd be really interesting ...!

32:

This debate is a recurring theme in the Gunroom of HMS Surprise, where the substances are spelles m*rm*te and v*g*m*te to avoid disturbing those of a sensitive disposition.

For those who praise Bovril, it is fallen from it former glory. During the BSE scare it was manufactured from yeast extract rather than being pure beef extract as formery. It now contains beef extract once again, but yeast extract is the main ingredient.

33:

Bovril rules, although I too remember those dark dreary BSE times when you couldn't source it for a long time, neither for love nor money! (I suppose that's when they were concocting the yeast substitute.) And it's good to have as a handy supplement for cooking purposes.

But, dear yeast extract aficiandos, what about Promite? Another Australian product, but smoother, more mature, more -- dare I say it? -- sophisticated, compared to the "beer can, shorts and singlet" beat-your-tongue-to-quivering-shredded-flesh-with-a-sledgehammer Vegemite that everyone says is an Australian icon but I think is just a piece of propaganda put out to discourage people from invading the southern continent based on nothing more than keeping one's sense of aesthetics. And taste. Just saying....

Stand up and be counted, Promite fans! You have nothing to lose but your obscurity!

34:

A few years ago I was fed some Vegemite on bread by an Australian acquaintance.

Didn't cause any permanent damage.

35:

Someone known to me only as 'thekid2847' pointed out a few years ago that the Donner Party episode, commonly thought to be a tragedy, actually involved a shipment of Marmite, and -- in a transcendent, soaring triumph of the human spirit -- they never touched it.

P7? You could make it P8 if you could slip a "Putative" in somewhere.

36:

How do you know?

37:

"Now, Marmite-flavoured beer, that'd be really interesting ...!"

Yup, and what do you get when you clean the fermenting tanks after whipping up a batch of that? Double-baked marmite?

38:

Throwing up another vote here for people who enjoy both of them.

However, a couple of years ago I made a disturbing discovery when I found an old jar of vegemite and put it on my toast (I didn't know it was expired at the time). That day I learned that expired vegemite tastes almost exactly like marmite.

Take from that what you will but now I have the horrifying suspicion that Sanitarium basically has huge vats of vegemite that they're artificially aging to produce marmite...

39:

OK, so where do we stand on Lea and Perrins vs Henderson's Relish?

40:

The inestimable phrasewelder (as opposed to wordsmith) Geoff Miller on alt.tasteless perfectly encapsulated Marmite, Vegemite, and all the other mites: "Skidmark-in-a-jar".

41:

I think I only learned about Marmite and Vegemite after Terry Pratchett's Fifth Elephant was published in Poland, because Vegemite is mentioned in the story. Both things are extremely hard to get here, but I looked for them hard, tried them, and got hooked on the stuff. You can only imagine the horror I went through when I reached into my kitchen cupboard to get a can of beans, accidentally knocking down a jar of precious Marmite, which promptly fell and shattered on the kitchen floor. Not only have I lost a whole big jar of tasty Marmite, but my kitchen floor was all covered in a sticky substance with shards of glass firmly embedded in it. I was so devastated that for several minutes I actually tried spooning some Marmite out of the carnage, checking it for broken glass and then putting it elsewhere, which turned out to be a lost cause and a v. bad idea.

And another thing: you really do not like stout? Wow. That is a controversial statement if I ever saw one, the Marmite vs. Vegemite debate notwithstanding :D

42:

Chris@39: Henderson's.

43:

Feeling slightly sad at the moment - just finished my last tub of Christmas Twiglets, those and Cheese Footballs were the ultimate in seasonal snacks in my distant youth. This discussion also makes me want to seek out the Mr. Bean episode where he creates 'twig'-lets from the tree outside his window, dipped in Marmite.

Looks like I'll be trekking the Surrey snow tomorrow to find some Vegemite - I've obviously been missing out!

44:

Krystyna: Guinness is fairly foul -- it's pasteurized and carbonated, ergo, Not Real Ale -- and I prefer lighter beers. Not pilseners, but weiss and IPAs and bitters (note: for British values of IPA, not the bizarre over-hopped American concoctions).

45:

I've always been of the opinion that every culture has some food or foods that you need to grow up with in order to find palatable, or for that matter, in order to even recognize as a food-like substance.

Speaking as an American, I put Marmite and Vegemite in that category. Peanut butter is in that category for a lot of people. Likewise such Jewish staples as chopped liver and gefilte fish.

Somehow we manage to view these dietary differences as minor curiosities, rather than as the causes of religious wars, as with regional pizza styles.

46:

Tried Marmite. It's sorta okay. I have a jar in the fridge right now. But I much prefer any homemade meat glaze; currently, I've got a reduction of three quarts of duck stock down to just five ounces of glaze, and it's yummy.

47:

Adam at 45: Peanut butter is Not Food. It's the foul pasty excretum of some nameless horror from Elsewhere.

More flame bait: I quite like both Marmite and Vegemite. Can take or leave them, really. Both pretty good for cooking with, and OK in sandwiches if I don't have any cheese.

Now, those strange people who eat cheese and Marmite sandwiches...

48:

This post has reminded me: I have a limited edition giftbox of shoyu-flavoured KitKats somewhere in my cupboards... AHA! Here they are.

(nom nom)

Verdict: soy sauce + white chocolate = maple flavouring. My tongue feels a little betrayed, somehow. I think I'm ready to try Marmite.

49:

Adam Rice@45: "Speaking as an American, I put Marmite and Vegemite in that category. Peanut butter is in that category for a lot of people."

I concur. Peanut butter was not available in the UK when I grew up, and even today in the US I dislike peanut butter and even a lot of confections with peanuts in them, although I like peanuts as nuts (raw or salted).

I'm always surprised by how many people won't eat molluscs, crustacea, cephalopods, raw fish, amphibia, and reptiles. Even the range of mammals is very limited, few people in the UK or the US will eat horses. I draw the line at insects, and that I'm sure is purely cultural.

50:

We bought a load of the Marstons Pedigree edition jars (decorated to look like cricket balls for The Ashes this year) and gave them to anyone on our cricket team who scored a duck this season.

However, I'm fairly certain that by mid-August, certain lower-order players were wandering out to bat with one eye on the 'quacker' prize and blindly swiping accordingly. That's the excuse I'm using for a late-season slump in form, anyway :)

Funnily enough, having grown up in a household permanently stocked with Marmite, I now genuinely prefer Vegemite (as does my 4yo daughter). Odd.

51:

Vitam-R is lovely, PhilipC #27, but hopeless for cooking as the flavour is just too delicate. I use Meridian which is just yeast extract and salt, no vegetable extracts added and I now can't stand either Marmite or Vegemite, though I was brought up on Marmite.

Adam Rice #45, have you ever tried natto from Japan (not natto miso)? There is a line down Japan, to the East they are brought up on it and love it. The rest of Japan agrees with the rest of the world that they are crazy. It is made from soya beans fermented with the occasional food-poisoning bacterium and houseplant compost improver Bacillus subtilis. The slime between the whole dark brown beans can stretch to six inches before breaking. The main flavour component is ammonia. I ruined a large stew with one tablespoonful and had to remove the rest from my flat before it was fully thawed as the smell was unbearable.

52:

I tried vegemite once, didn't care for it. I haven't had occasion to try marmite so I can't speak to that.

"just like peanut butter"

You say that like you don't have peanut butter there. Have I spent my life nibbling a bizarre American concoction unknown to the rest of the world? Somehow I find that hard to believe.

53:

Lea and Perrins. Actually I use this and both Bovril* and Marmite (on different occasions) in cooking.

Going to try the Marmite bread dough just to see.

(*The beef extract version rather than the vegan friendly version - both of which are on the same shelf at the local store)

Got to love the subjects that get aired here!

54:

Ahh the age old debate in Australia between me an Aussie and my English friends, this is often the start of a very big flame war if it kicks off at the pub go Charles go.

55:

Why do you put it in the fridge? It's designed to be bullet-proof in conditions as extreme as Australia!!

56:

"You would not believe the vast stockpile of Marmite that Scott Base and McMurdo have. One might think they're afraid that the RNZAF and NZ Antarctic Program will wither and die in this remote place."

Clearly they feel they need it on hand in case any Shoggoths turn up.

As repellent? Or as a distraction for the Shoggoths to eat first? I don't know.

57:

Apparently, marmite tastes like that sticky brown substance you get on the floors of chippys, fast food places and the like. Apparently.

HATE the wretched stuff.

58:

@38:

"Throwing up another vote ..."

Erm, well. I guess there are other ways to say the same thing using a different expression, especially when talking about food.

59:

Gefilte fish smells kinda funny, but it actually has a rather sweet and delicate flavor. I should say that I'm referring to the home-made variety and not to the turd-shaped gefilte-objects that can be found in a jar on the "odd foods" aisle.

The I-grew-up-with-it foods that people find disgusting are tongue and celery soda. More "pungent" than ginger ale!

60:

TwistedByKnaves @14, I use pill pockets for Junie's pills. She likes them so much she wakes me up early.

I have lots of friends who like Marmite and Vegemite, but I haven't tried it. I do like peanut butter, though, and with other things, like in celery sticks, and with raisins in a sandwich, etc.

61:

I really like Vegemite, and I'm a USian. One of the joys of spending the next couple of weeks down under is that my host's standard breakfast is Vegemite and Tomato on Toast. Yum.

62:

Official note: speaking as someone of Jewish heritage and upbringing, the One True Gefilte Fish is the stuff of that name you get in Manchester and Leeds. Which bears no resemblance whatsoever to the stuff foisted on you as gefilte fish in the US (and which is utterly revolting and inedible).

63:

TwistedByKnaves @14 -

Bacon fat.

Although the true pill trick involves a 3ml syringe with 2ml of room-temperature water in it; even a cat with teeth firmly clenched can't keep you from gently adding water via the diastema aft the canines. (Or, for most pills, the pill. Pill must be added before the water.) And then they do have to swallow.

Oddly enough, while I felt a bit of wretch for using that trick, I think I'd feel much worse feeding marmite to a cat.

64:

Vegemite on toast...mmmm.. A late wife who hailed from Albion detested vegemite but all her oz-born children tolerated it quite well.
Tried Marmite - didn't care for it much.
as an aside, I just love swiss (or edam) cheese sandwiches with SPC Plum Sauce or Branston Pickle (although the branston of old was better.)

65:

Pat@51: I probably shouldn't note that I used to eat it over rice with cheddar melted onto it(stir the natto up a bit first to make it more of a paste, the cheese reduces the sliminess). Yum!

Agreement on the over-hopped-ness of USA IPAs. There's nothing faster to change your tastes when you live downwind of several thousand pounds of drying hops. Well, that and a hangover from said over-hopped IPA.

(Mental note to ask the parents' Brit neighbor if he's got some Marmite to sample when I next visit)

66:

Is it legal now to have Marmite/Vegemite in the US? There was a news story here a while back about how US Customs was confiscating it at the border for the crime of some added supplement (folate, or thiamine? I forget). In the US, the FDA had decreed that you can only add that to flour, not to any other food item.

There used to be two different flavours of Marmite down under, the Aussie and the NZ one. Sometime ago (late 90's, I think) they did a big taste test and the NZ version won, so now they make it all.

67:

Mmm... cheese and marmite on a butty! Haven't had that since breakfast time!

68:

Stephen@66: Marmite is on sale in the US, or at least in MA. There's an international grocer in Cambridge, just off Harvard Square that sells it, and I've seen it in the big supermarket chain you find in Boston, which has a British/Irish (mostly Irish) section.

69:

I'm shocked, 68 comments and no mention of Men At Work? I'll assume that it's being avoided and just say their particular song is how I first heard of Vegemite.

There used to be a German market where I live that sold both, but I never had the nerve/desire to try either. My Anglophile (now Scotophile) father claims to like Marmite and not Vegemite, but I haven't tried what he has on hand when I visit. I have always been a little curious about the Aussie/Brit attitudes about their respective version. Most descriptions I've heard don't make it sound too appetizing, though Charlie's does sound almost interesting.

btw, this Jew won't touch gefilte fish (vegetarian [not vegan] nearly 20 years, never much liked fish). I make a very believable veg chopped liver, so I've been told. I'd just like to know why you can't seem to get a decent pumpernickel bagel outside the northeast (New York to DC).

70:

Marmite and Vegemite? Nothing wrong with going both ways. Most of my favourite people do.

71:

I've been adding a teaspoonful of Marmite to bread dough for ages - my other favorite use is in omelettes, to spice up the potatoes and cheese.

72:

Here's the thing: I've never eaten either, and I lived 34 of the first 34 2/3 years of my life in the UK. So what's all the fuss about? Can I have some Bovril now, please?

73:

So the American "OMG NOT FOOD U SICK BASTARD" substance is.. cheez whiz? As a Southern American I've quite enjoyed exposing yankees, furriners, and other life forms to the phenomenon of grits; my personal, local, "notfood get it away" substance.

Vegemite Marmite and that whole class of "no it used to be toxic waste but now in small jars its an addictive delecacy" ... elude my understanding. It was a Hungy person who first tried those, and caviar, and mudbugs, and I am grateful that I have never been that hungry.

74:

@Feorag: It's Liebig not Leibig, so it's spoken like "Leebig" not "Laibig" :-)

75:

Just want to weigh in on the 'hate marmite' side to provide some even balance on this love fest.

I also hate Bovril, Vegemite, and any other 'extract' product.

I do miss salt beef bagels from Brick Lane though, wish I was back in Blighty.

76:

Phil the Badger@32: My brother used the beef-less Bovril period to his advantage when he lived in San Francisco. Bovril with beef in it is verboten to be imported into the US because of the BSE scare, and there are enough British ex-pats in the Bay Area that the customs officers at SFO would specifically ask "you don't have any of that Bovril do you?"

When Bovril went beef-free, it could once again be legally brought into the US. However, Tesco's own-brand beef extract, which was indistinguishable from (real) Bovril, remained full of bovine goodness, presumably because they couldn't call it beef extract without any beef in it. So whenever my brother came back over to the UK he'd buy several jars of faux Bovril and Tesco beef extract, empty out the former and refill the jars with latter and so be able to bring "melted cow" (my American wife's name for Bovril) into the US with the authorities none the wiser.

77:

Marmite/Vegemite/Bovril : MMmmmmmm

Try toast (or preferably a toasted (cheesey if you can get it) Muffin) with butter and a light spread of Marmite then a cm or so of (stiff - pour away the liquid whenever you see it!) cottage cheese straight from the fridge. Yumarooney!

ps "Muffin" is obviously not a silly little cakey thing often referred to as a "Muffin" in America! The very idea ...

78:

On peanut butter: I like peanut butter, too, but steer clear of American-origin PB. It's the small print on the labels that does it: true PB consists of peanuts, maybe some peanut oil, and perhaps a pinch of salt, so why do they add high-fructose corn syrup?

(Actually, this is a generic British objection to American foodstuffs: they're all too sweet for a British palate, because of the ubiquity of HFCE as a bulking agent and food additive.)

79:

Cheeze Whiz?

"This product may contain whiz from more than one species."

80:

What happens if you have three year out of date Marmite on toast for breakfast? Cos that's what I have just done..
Went great with espresso, so just need to add fat and I've got all three food groups.

81:

@ 77 OLD joke ...
Is Muffin the mule a criminal offence?

82:

At some point in my childhood I discovered how well Vegemite blends with sweeter spreads like honey and jam.

Vegemite and plum jam on toast is probably my favourite combination.

I can't believe that the dreaded iSnack 2.0 (Vegemite and creamed cheese combo) or as I call it, SwirlyCack, has not been mentioned yet.

83:

I'm definitely one of those as likes both Vegemite & Marmite - albeit in limited portions and I'm in no way addicted to the stuff.

Many years ago you could buy Vegemite in Japanese supermarkets but Marmite was unavailable even at the super expensive import shop in the middle of Tokyo. I had various friends and acquaintances who would commission purchases of Marmite by all their colleagues who were visiting Hong Kong.

Subsequently when I worked in California and had business trips back to the UK I was asked a number of times to bring back jars of Marmite. I used to buy half a dozen jars in the supermarket just before boarding the plane at Heathrow and it went into my hand luggage. It shows up on the X-ray machine as a very distinctive black hole - so distinctive that the securty people there knew exactly what it was and one teased me once with:
"Aha another marmite smuggler I see"
"But it's not for me!" I replied (truthfully as it happens)
"That's what they all say... that's what they all say"

These days of course you can't put it in hand luggage unless you want to be given the full-on frisking.

@51: Regarding Natto. I have noticed that the Japanese who adore Natto tend to like Marmite/Vegemite and derivative products such as twiglets.

84:

Bless those eukaryotic micro-organisms, in our future space habitats we can brew beer and consume the waste product. :) I hereby coin it: SpaceMite.TM 2010

Incidentally, bit OT, but Hops is closely related to cannabis. Its a small Genus.

Vegemite = hangover aid. (Aust) Bread optional.:)

Damian

85:

But:

Is eating Dead Yeast vegetarian ?

Not having seen Vegemite, is it dead yeast too, or is it the vegetatian alternative ?

pedantic minds would like to know ...

86:

It IS ridiculous, like everything over here must have Corn Syrup in it! At my Store we're selling "Retro" Soft Drinks that proudly proclaim "Made with REAL Sugar". 8-)

87:

h2odragon @73, that's one of the big historical questions I've wondered about; "What were they thinking when they tried eating that?

Charlie @78, I have a friend who'd completely agree with you. He admits to being addicted to natural peanut butter, and will always buy the local version wherever he travels.

Unfortunately the high-fructose corn syrup seems to be in nearly everything here. I think I heard Bush's corn/ethanol subsidy was, at least partly, to blame for surplus corn -had to be used for something.

Another foodstuff that's not been mentioned yet: Haggis. Coming back from Scotland a few years ago with my brother and father, my father was pulled out of the line by customs because he had because he had a couple canned haggises, they let them through, no beef. But they made sure we hadn't been walking around on any farms.

88:

I like Marmite and always have done; I like it with cheese, too, and also with peanut butter.

As an expat Brit child in Beirut in the 60s, I could get both Marmite and a fair amount of USian stuff like peanut butter (Planters, I think), so I feel I was sort of raised in two cultures. Even three, if you count Lebanese food too (I've been eating hummous since about 1964).

I remember sometime in the 80s there was a short-lived product that was marmite-and-peanut butter together in a jar; rather pointless, as anyone who liked that could make it themselves in the combination strength they preferred.

Marmite is good with mashed potato, something my father made for us kids on the vanishingly rare occasions when my mother was away and he, an airline pilot normally away, wasn't... This was probably early 1967 or 1966, when my mother and a couple of her friends drove to Jerusalem when you still could from Beirut.

I only tried Vegemite once, and didn't like it. Perhaps it is Mite Uncanny Valley... it's almost-but-not-quite there. I don't mean Aussies have got it wrong; I'm happy for them to feel the same way about Marmite.

I don't think I spotted anyone mention that Marmite recognises it is hated as much as loved, and that's part of its advertising; for instance, there's a TV commercial where a girl kisses her bf after he's had a bit of Marmite on toast and she screws up her face in disgust, romance over. My current pot of Marmite is one with the "Marmite is Horrid" label.

I did have a Guinness Marmite pot last year and didn't find it any different from normal Marmite.

On sweetness... I was amazed on my last visit to the US how sweet the milk was. Yergh.

89:

@87 and Haggis

We're coming up on Burns night a few weeks so this is the peak of the Haggis hunting* season.

I have to say I like Haggis. Once a year. It isn't everyday food but it is nice as a welcome change. And, come to think of it, it probably wouldn't hurt if there was some Marmite in the sauce/gravy.

*I wonder whether a short SF story could be made where Haggises turn outo actually be 3 legged creatures running clockwise (or anti-clockwise) around the hills and mountains of Scotland

90:

@87 "But they made sure we hadn't been walking around on any farms."

I wonder about that bit of an entry form when I see it. The village I live in has farms mixed in with the residential houses, with one farm giving out onto a shopping street. Housing estates are next to fields; from my house I can see the sheep (and occasionally cows) rubbing up against the wall and sitting-room window of Apple Dumpling Cottage in the next-door field. And herds of cows are driven along country lanes with drivers and walkers following on behind. Cheddar Gorge, near me, has sheep and goats and horses wandering about cropping the grass where you walk or drive or park.

My point is, you don't have to walk around on a farm to get cowshit and sheepshit and horseshit and so on all over you. Should one admit to this...?

91:

Actually, we neglected to mention that we had been on a former farm, now a dog breeder. My father insisted on coming back with a Deerhound. We didn't walk through any of the fields, though the dogs were free to roam around, who knows what they get into. And there's no longer a quarantine for traveling pets between the UK and US. So, a pretty pointless question.

92:

WHY YOU VILE SOMETHING OR OTHER. I flame you now.

In all seriousness... aren't you supposed to like the things you grew up eating as comfort food? You can pry my cheese-and-jam sandwich from my cold dead fingers.

93:

@89

I eat haggis quite a lot not just on Jan 25th. But it tends to be the veggie variety. (I know the proper stuff doesn't have beef in it, but still.)

94:

"steer clear of American-origin PB. It's the small print on the labels that does it: true PB consists of peanuts, maybe some peanut oil, and perhaps a pinch of salt, so why do they add high-fructose corn syrup?"

You've been running into nasty national brands like Skippy's--named for a good but long-dead comic strip--or Peter Pan. In the Pacific Northwest we tend to eat the regional brand Adams, which (unless they changed the mix since I bought a jar last month) is refreshingly crap-free. Only disadvantage is that you either need to stir it up frequently, or stir it once and then store it in the fridge so the oil stays mixed until you finish the jar.

95:

I see you can put marmite in your bread dough but the REAL question is, can you put marmite in your spotted dick?

96:

Marmite is foul and disgusting, I can not believe that you could sink so low as to publically admit to liking the stuff. That's it, I'm going to burn all your books right now.

If you're going to put a brown spread on your toast then it has to be Nutella (or a generic version thereof).

97:

@ Emma in France, #96 -- do they still have "Crumpy" in France? It was pretty much Nutella, but a little bit less sweet, I think...

98:

Newsflash:
In response to the universal objection to naming the Vegemite+cream cheese concoction "iSnack 2.0", Kraft has relented and the new name is "Vegemite Cheesybite"; the more appropriate "Cheesymite" having already been trademarked.

Me, I enjoy Bovril, Vegemite & Marmite, but in sparing quantities, unlike some of my fellow Antipodeans. Sometimes, less is more.

99:

vegemite is the plutonium of the food world. there is no safe dose. a mate once contaminated our margarine on a camping trip by reusing a knife and rendered the whole thing inedible to me. words can't describe how hideous it is.

100:

MacSweens Vegetarian Haggis, I presume, Jack #93? Lovely but so filling I can't eat one with anything but else gravy.

#89, I seem to remember haggis creatures were a frequent occurrence in the comic The Beano when I was a child.

When I discovered real peanut butter (just peanuts and salt) I tried an added-sugar-free version of the American delicacy a childhood friend had tried to force on me. Made with a sharp grape jelly made from just grapes it was marvellous. Can't get that Cypriot jelly any more but any sharp, unsugared jam will do.

Alastair #85, most vegetarians eat fungi. Some avoid them due to fears that they feed Candida yeast, probably a delusion. If you have read that Hitler was a vegetarian then please read about his diet, beef tea (not sure if it was Bovril) and sausages were a major part of his food intake. His doctor had recommended that he become a vegetarian but he didn't have the willpower.

101:

I never knowingly tried either Vegemite nor Marmite, but now I wonder how these are related to some kind of vegetarian "leberwurst" ersatz (yeast based bread spread) you'll find organic food stores here in Germany.

102:

What's the consensus on kimchi? I'm preparing a soup with it tonight (a belated and spicy bastardization of New Year's Soup) and realized it might fall under the DO NOT WANT category for some. For me that's century eggs, which my local pharmacy sells in the snack section. I'm willing to be convinced, though. Has anyone here tried them?

103:

Unfortunately the high-fructose corn syrup seems to be in nearly everything here. I think I heard Bush's corn/ethanol subsidy was, at least partly, to blame for surplus corn -had to be used for something.

Started way before Bush, I'm afraid. According to Micheal Pollan, it started in the early '70s (there's that date again!) when the Nixon administration decided that instead of the farm policies that had been in place since Roosevelt, designed to stabilize food prices and ensure an adequate national output, they wanted to ensure maximum food output. Corn output in particular got maximized because corn is naturally a high-yielding crop, it proved easily mechanized (which mechanization was supported by the government), and there were loads of other things to do with it other than just eating it. The purpose of all of this was to ensure cheap food for consumers and high profits for agribusinesses rather than self-supporting farmers, incidentally eliminating the farmer's lobby in favor of an agribusiness lobby.

Combined with protectionist measures for some competitors to corn derivatives, like cane sugar in soft drinks, corn and corn products became the cheapest way to do anything, so they got everywhere. This has obviously been problematic in many respects.

104:

Century eggs are quite nice.

I confess I don't like kimchi, but that's because I don't like very spicy food in general (coming under the "food that hurts to eat and then hurts the other end for a while" category). One of the perils of getting older: a digestive system that can't tolerate spicy food anymore…

105:

What do they taste like? Eggs? Centuries? Some other thing?

106:

I hadn't had grits until we transfered to Virginia and I really didn't like them back then. Now, I like grits, but I prefer cheese grits. I hadn't had okra, either, until we moved here, and I like those, as well.

107:

Charlie, there's plenty of just-peanuts & peanut-oil peanut butter in the US. You do have to read the label.

108:

right there with you, vegemite AND marmite.

i once saw a great US comedian who remarked

"i'm loving your marrr-might stuff, it's awesome. but if i can make a suggestion to improve it a little.

more salt."

-> audience in stitches.

109:

I think Nutella is too sweet for anything!

110:

Pat @100, My understanding was that H. was a vegetarian because he believed that the 'lesser races' had interbred with cattle, at least according to a documentary I once saw on the screwy neo-paganism they made up.

Madeline @102, My experience with Kimchi has been inconsistent. It's one of those things where every family has their own recipe, some are good some not. Are Century Eggs the same as Thousand Year Old Eggs? Even though I don't particularly like eggs I've always been curious about them, I'd be willing to try them, once. And the tofu version.

truth is life @103, Well, I said partly. I'm pretty sure what I was thinking of was from an interview with Pollan a while back. Though I might be mixing up memories.

Marilee @106, Okra, another iffy thing. Good dry-roasted in Indian food, slimy bad in other things I've had.

111:

Century eggs are also called 1000 year old eggs. I like them with pickled ginger. The taste is hard to describe. The white's sort of jelly-like, and the yolk has a salty tang with a texture reminiscent of pâté.

Okra's nice in a curry.

As for kimchi, it's a nice accompaniment to a meal.

112:

Urk. That's "pate".

113:

Okra is good in gumbo. Alton Brown (the geek of Food Network) had an Okra episode on Good Eats,fried okra,Yum!

114:

Getting back to Marmite.

I have in my fridge the remnants of a small truckle of cheddar impregnated with Marmite.
Is that not a very useful example of innovative product design? Oh, and yes it is yummy.....

115:

My personal favorite odd food-product is Easy Cheese.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easy_Cheese

I prefer the one with bits of bacon in it, sprayed directly into the mouth.

116:

OK - it's too easy a shot - how can you say with a straight face that marmite or vegemite have nothing to do with the American Healthcare Debate? (Sorry - must be called Healthcare Debate precisely because naming it accurately would only confuse people who equate the whole thing with socialism).

Anyway, I'm willing to bet that over 80% of Americans fed either substance will immediately DEMAND some sort of healthcare reform - at least on a personal level.

Of course I'm an American who likes both (but I don't really count since I was brought up in England).

117:

Hitler certainly described himself as a vegetarian (his table talk and the Goebbels diaries contain multiple rants about how warrior nations like the Romans and the Vikings were vegetarian and that after the war he would end meat eating one and for all) but in reality was more what my mum would call a fussy eater

Once he got in a position when he could eat anything he damned well pleased (which certainly wasn't the case in the first 40 years of his life when he lived in the family home, boarding houses, army barracks and hotels) Hitler seems to have subsisted mainly on a diet of cream cakes and pasta supplemented by beef tea, ham, turtle soup, stuffed squab and sausage.

IIRC according to Speer's Inside the Third Reich he would maintain the pretence of vegetarianism in company by inflicting vegetarian pasta on his guests while ensuring that his own ravioli was stuffed with beef.

So his vegetarianism was like almost everything else about him and his regime an elaborate lie.

118:

@ 89
BUT Haggis' have FIVE legs - I thought everyone knew that!

@ 97 YES - it's called Carla Bruni (oh wait, that's "CRUMPET")

Oh, and completely off-topic:
Readable paper

119:

I grew up on vegemite and it's definitely an acquired taste. Best way to eat it is with butter/margerine between two VitaWheat biscuits and squeeze until the 'worms' come out of the holes in the biscuits. Second best way is spread on toast and then cheese melted on top.

I'm not sure I've even eaten Marmite.

Okra - good in curries.

Gefilte fish - homemade or from the deli, this Jew says 'yuck'.

Natto - I've only come face-to-face with it once, (although I have seen it on 'Iron Chef' a number of times), and it is truly abominable! I think qualifies as a Weapon of Mass Destruction and should be banned under the Geneva Convention.

120:

My half-Japanese, half-English boys love, love, LOVE natto and would eat it several times a day if allowed, but won't touch Heinz baked beans with a bargepole. They really don't know what they're missing - but then they reckon I'm weird because I hate natto :-(

121:

@118

Nope - Haggis have 3 legs, it says so here on teh Intertubes.
http://www.electricscotland.com/haggis/haggis1.html

A haggis is a small animal native to Scotland. Well when I say animal, actually it's a bird with vestigial wings - like the ostrich. Because the habitat of the haggis in exclusively mountainous, and because it is always found on the sides of Scottish mountains, it has evolved a rather strange gait. The poor thing has only three legs, and each leg is a different length - the result of this is that when hunting haggis, you must get them on to a flat plain - then they are very easy to catch - they can only run round in circles.

122:

Roger@117

...his table talk and the Goebbels diaries contain multiple rants about how warrior nations like the Romans and the Vikings were vegetarian and that after the war he would end meat eating one and for all...

I know it's AH so logic and internal consistency aren't to be expected, but if vegetarianism=warrior then shouldn't the policy have been to ban meat whilst the war was on rather than waiting until afterwards?


Marmite - yes please. Same goes for my g/f (ethnically German but raised in England) and the older of our two kids (t'other one's only a toddler so there's still time for him).

Marmite plus $OTHERSPREAD - good with p/b. My brother asserts that you can pair it with marmalade to good effect, but I must confess that I haven't replicated the experiment. [Bad empiricist, bad! No cookie!]

Vegemite - never had sufficient exposure to the stuff to form an opinion.

Corn Syrup - ISTR one of the diet/lifestyle books I've read* highlighting the coincidence between the introduction of HFCS as a food additive and the inflection point for the modern USian obesity phenomenon. Correlation != causation of course, but it's an interesting observation.

Baked Beans - these are too bland to provoke outrage or disgust a la Marmite but I gather the UK version (ie canned, in a runny tomato sauce, no molasses) are something pretty much confined to the right-pondian anglosphere. Heinz introduced 'em back at the start of last century so clearly they derived from some kind of US precursor, but my understanding is that they are pretty much unknown stateside outside of specialty stores targetting expats and that the closest mainstream equivalent are much less of an everyday staple. Do they feature down under at all?

Haggis - it's like black pudding. If you get a good one then yum, but there are a lot of crappy ones out there that are just vile. [Note to self - Burns Night imminent, replenish whisky bunkerage]

Regards
Luke


[*]Possibly Atkins, although my gut (hah! See what I did there?) says it was something a bit less faddy.

123:

The peanut butter and marmite toasted sandwich has been oft-invented - indeed, Adrian Edmondson has claimed in interviews that it is his breakfast of choice. I had it myself this morning, in fact - excellent stuff. Marmite's also an excellent base layer for beans on toast.

Bovril is also very good on toast or (especially) with butter on cold chapatis. I understand some people drink the stuff, but that just seems odd.

Vegemite: edible, sure, but marmite is just better...

124:

@ 122
"Baked Beans - these are too bland to provoke outrage or disgust "
REALLY?
Ever been downwind of anyone, or your self after eating many of them?
They CERTAINLY contribute to human-caused global warming, never mind the things besides methane that get emitted.

Incidentally, I always thought that one of the episodes of Bagpuss - the one called "The Hamish" (you can find it on YouTube) was wrong, and the small hamish was, in fact NOT a Porcupincushion, but an Haggis - as shown in the middle of the screening.

125:

Cthulhu loves Marmite and is repelled by Vegemite. Your decision.

126:

Marmite is part of my umami pantry:

http://blog.belm.com/2010/01/05/whole-lotta-umami/

127:

I like okra when it's fried. It's crisp then, but I'm not as fond of the slimy version.

128:

If you regularly eat beans, you don't have that response.

129:

Charlie's comment on having to check the label on PB brought me to having a PB and raisinks (hey, fruit!) sandwich last night.

I used the last of the Jif Chunky, which said:

Made from roasted peanuts and sugar, contains 2% or less of molasses, fully hydrogenated vegetable oils (rapeseed and soybean), mono- and diglycerides, and salt.

The new peanut butter, which was on sale cheap enough to be worth trying, is Jif Creamy "natural" (I'm not convinced that natural or organic is really that much better for us) which says on the front "contains 90% peanuts" and on the back:

Made from roasted peanuts, sugar, contains 2% or less of: palm oil, salt, molasses

This plastic container is not as strong on the walls, it's harder for me to carry.

130:

Speaking as a purebread mongrel scot, the intertubes are wrong, the species of haggis has 4 legs, the important point being that 2 on one side are shorter than the two on the other side. This means they can only run round the mountains one way. Predation was thinning the numbers a little much and so they evolved ones with long left legs and ones with long right legs many thousands of years ago. Their offspring in turn are either lefties or righties, but there's the occaisional freak with long front legs or back legs which can move up and down the mountain with impunity. They help keep variation in the gene pool and are noticeably more fit in a Darwinian sense, although I don't believe anyone has gathered enough samples to run the numbers on. But since their children are very likely to have the normal number of legs in a normal pattern, they have not speciated yet. The genetic code of haggis has yet to be unravelled, for it is quite complex, some of course claim that they are left overs from the dinosaur age, the same as Nessie.

There were rumours of some company trying to breed genetically altered haggis' with all legs the same length, maybe some of their attempts have escaped and produced the confused sitings that people are referencing? Anyway, at least they can't fly, that would really add to the fun.

131:

Exactly. I was thinking that in Indian cooking okra was dry/pan roasted like spices are, but I just looked through a few of my Indian cookbooks, which call for frying in ghee or oil. It's the only way I've had it that was edible.

132:

As for Twiglets in the US, I get mine from Amazon. I've tried acquiring them from BritMarts (a generic name for stores catering to British/UK expats), but the comment from the shopkeepers is that twiglets go stale too fast to sell. For some reason, the BritMarts appear to have stopped selling barley water, which I miss. Ribena I can get lots of, and it is too sweet, even excessively watered down.

As for Marmite in the US, I tend to get mine from a chain of stores called World Market. Who also carry Cadbury's Flake - which all the women in my office bless me for bring to work. You may have one in your nearby American city. http://www.worldmarket.com/home/index.jsp
I usually add a thin layer of it on toast, but the folks at work are revolted by the smell.

Thanks for the explanation, as I've always wondered why Vegemite just tastes "wrong" for something that's quite similar to Marmite.

I shall try adding marmite to my next batch of bread. Sadly, the idiot boss has us working 60hr weeks because he horribly miscalculated the time it would take to make our next version of our software product, so it may be some time.

133:

Baked Beans are well represented in shops in here in oz.
Heinz alone have about 5 different types! (as far as I can tell, just different sauces - and salt-reduced). There are also local brands (for example, SPC - Shepparton Packing Company - they do canned peaches/apricots etc mainly)

Great on toast with a slice of melted cheese on top. By observation, they are not implicated in excessive methane production - the cows/sheep do most of it here!

134:

Marilee: there's your problem: the peanut butter I buy over here contains no added sugar: it doesn't need it!

135:

Marmite is salty motor oil. But having just tried it in our bread machine (thanks, freecycle) it is a definite winner. Thanks Charlie.

136:

I realize that I've been inconsistent myself, saying that I won't try Marmite/Vegemite, but would Century Eggs. So next time I come across one or other I'll try it, and try some bread baking with it. I might be able to find it at one of the local military commissaries, which tend to have lots of European and Asian foods, I assume for the spouses who get brought back -mostly from Korea and Germany. Or at the previously mentioned World Market.

I'm starting to sound like some sort of Foodie. I'm not, there are plenty of things I will not eat. Being a vegetarian helps in that regard.

Another thing, I've always been amused by people who will eat Rocky Mountain Oysters, but get queasy at the thought of Tofu.

137:

In regards to the peanut butter debate, while I hesitate to defend the massively conglomerated agribusiness of my country (the U.S.), it is a BIT unfair to generally disdain all American peanut butters... the peanut butter I eat is composed of peanuts and maybe some salt. The important thing to do is read the label of any food product-- actually, any product, but food products in particular, since you are ingesting them-- and determine whether they meet your particular dietary preference. If you're me, that means organic, non-red meat, free-range in the case of fowl, and wild in the case of fish. Yes, on this side of the pond we can get that stuff as well.

As far as odd foods go-- I'm astonished no one has mentioned SPAM, or the "healthier" variety, turkey spam. Famously used in Hawaii.

Can't say I'm a fan, but there are a lot of afficionados of the mystery meat.

138:

Oh, and I suppose I should have added that I recently read Halting State, which led me here. I enjoyed the book a great deal-- thanks for writing it.

139:

The peanut butter I usually buy, because its what I can find in the shops here in the UK (supermarkets that is) is 97% peanuts, a little palm oil and salt. All the other stuff is 92% peanuts with sugar and stuff added, which are of course unnecessary.

140:

Yeah, but after it's sat in the fridge for a while it has the consistency of concrete. Set concrete. (My mother ate old-fashioned PB. I'm not sure that no-HFCS is worth the stirring and the rest of it.)

During the great PB Crunch of 1980-81, Trader Joe's was selling 'American Nut Butter', made from glandless cotton seeds, with some peanut oil. It was a reasonable substitute.

141:

The problem here being that the USDA has standard recipes, which include the sugar/HFCS. If you don't use their standard recipe for the product, you have to call it something else.
(Again with the TJ reference: they were selling a no-sugar-added version of ketchup, and had to call it 'Ketchy', because it was non-standard. Tasted just as good, though.)

142:

My feelings about both vegemite and marmite are coloured by recurring childhood doses of brewer's yeast (we were fed it dissolved in water or juice). I still gag at that particular flavour.
Regarding peanut butter - I understand that during wartime rationing there was a peanut butter substitute - made with some sort of legume + flavouring. My father tells me that he first tasted real peanut butter in 1945 and found it tasted strange and revolting.
I actually discovered the substitute, now produced as a nut free substitute under the name "pea butter" and gave it a try. It tasted like peanut flavoured ground chickpeas that had been left on a shelf since 1945.

143:

PJ Evans #140 - not the stuff I have. It doesn't spread eisly, but I would hardly call it concrete. And you don't have to leave it in the fridge.

144:

I've used the stuff that you have to stir up... it can be a bit of an inconvenience, but the product tastes really quite excellent.

Re: vegemite and marmite-- I remember trying both at a tea party when my now-wife and I were living in London about 10 years ago. I'm afraid I gagged a bit-- I think that I was expecting something sweet like nutella, because it was next to a bunch of fruit spreads and such and because I'd had nutella before and thought that perhaps it was a similar product. It reminded me of anchovies (which I also don't like). Extremely salty. My wife actually liked it. She likes anchovies, too-- one of her few faults. ;)

145:

P J Evans @ 140: Oh, it doesn't take much - a good, sturdy butter knife, methodically stirring the peanut butter up so that its oil mingles well with the pulverized nuts, spread some on your surface of choice, and keep it in the fridge, and the concrete-like consistency shouldn't be much of an issue. In addition to the HFCS, hydrogenated vegetable oils are remarkably higher in saturated fat, and the added sugar makes my teeth hurt. How much corn-derived sugar do my people need, between HFCS in the bread, peanut butter, and jelly / jam? Going to the supermarket is now a tedious vigil, where a failure to read the label on everything I put into the cart is tantamount to betraying my body and principles. Never mind how huge the carts have gotten...

We're 142 comments in, and no one has sung the praises (or mourned the existence) of the durian? God's gift to the orangutan, and scourge of public transport across southeast Asia? The world's smelliest (and most delicious) fruit deserves better.

146:

The correct accompaniment to peanut butter is, of course, salad cream.

The bite of the salad cream offsets the blandness of the peanut butter while the body of the peanut butter offsets the thinness of the salad cream.

147:

I'm trying to remember whether eating Marmite attracts or repels the Dreaded Highland Midge. Can any natives help me out?

148:

I have rather remissly not declared my colours:

If by some ghastly mischance you find your fridge void of Patum Peperium, Marmite is an acceptable substitute.

149:

American here. I actually knew what Marmite and Vegemite were, and I've tried Marmite (once, long ago.) I rather liked teh flavor, but I can't recall now what it actually tasted like. As far as Vegemite goes, an Australian I used to work with insisted rather forcefully that Vegemite was unfit for eating and warned me never to eat it. I've never seen it to try it anyhow, but I wouldn't mind.

I also wanted to add I love your blog and your books.

150:

also, how about some FUCKING UPDATE

151:

avid reader: I've just been to London for a long weekend, and among other things had a productive meeting with my UK editor. You want me to do that from time to time, yes?

For future reference, before swearing at me: read the moderation policy.

152:

On Behalf of anyone really i would like to say that you should, absolutly, keep up with the book thing,and that the "avid reader" was in no way relective of the views of your other readers.

But since this column is called flame bait....

George RR Martin still hasnt delivered on his long promissed book, but Robert Jordan can manage it despite being DEAD!

153:

Aha! You're back again - I'm glad you made it safely, despite the interesting weather.

Marmite is preferred here, though I have tried Vegemite on a couple of occasions (it's not the same as "the real thing" but an acceptable substitute if desperate). I've also had a pot of genuine Marmite from the local supermarket on one occasion that was the wrong colour (light brown instead of sump-oil black) and tasted very different: close inspection of the label revealed the words "Made in South Africa".

Very strange.

Chris.

154:

It's easy for two people to give a pill to a cat, if one can get ahold of the cat. Most cats figure it out by the second pill, and won't let you grab them for a while.

I was discussing this with a pharmacist, and they suggested bringing in the prescription to them; they'd mix up a liquid version, with liver flavor added to it.

155:

That costs more than the pill pockets. Junie's pill pockets are $.30/day with the buspar $.30/day. The liquids that are mixed (both pet and human) tend to run closer to $5/day.

156:

I just re-read Jennifer Morgue...and spotted a Star Trek joke!
Should I be looking for Dr Who jokes too, Charlie?

157:

Any Star Trek joke you spotted is almost certainly the product of your own imagination.

158:

I like peanut butter with honey, but my father liked peanut butter with pickles.

The creamy "natural" peanut butter is not as good as the chunky regular peanut butter -- it has less flavor.

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