Sunday, January 17, 2010


While living in England for two years serving an LDS mission I came across Marmite on a number of occasions but never tasted it. All I had heard was that it was disgusting and I never had any desire to buy or try it. My niece, Lisa DeLong, now lives in London and she was visiting the U.S. over the Christmas holiday and brought me a jar. Now that I am in the mode of trying to be more adventurous in my eating I decided I needed to give it a try. Lisa, thank you for indulging my food whimsey.

Marmite was first made in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire (an area in my mission) in 1902. It is made from yeast extract, a by-product of brewing, which they got from the Bass Brewery.

I decided to go to the source of all wisdom, Wikipedia, for a tutorial on Marmite. I learned that it is "a sticky, dark brown paste with a distinctive, powerful flavour, which is extremely salty and savory with umami qualities, somewhat comparable to soy sauce." Umami, from Japanese, means flavor, or "brothy, meaty or savory." Apparently Marmite was used by vegetarians as a meat substitute. It was traditionally eaten as a spread on bread, toast and crackers. Because it is so concentrated, it is usually spread thinly with butter or margarine.

I must admit my prejudices were still with me as I opened the jar, took a whiff, and looked at the dark substance in the bottle. We had some good Great Harvest bread which I put in the toaster and then slathered with butter. Then I spread Marmite over a portion.

If anything, my prejudices were screaming louder at me, "do not eat it!" So much of food is a mind game. As I am learning from one of my new heroes, Andrew Zimmern, of Bizarre Foods, just launch into it and try it two times. I put it on too thick. It was very, very strong and salty. I was originally repulsed, but kept chewing and got it down. Then I took a second bite, it was better. It is what I would imagine eating a liquidy version of beef bouillon would be like. Judy took a bite (she had to salve her palate with chocolate afterwards), then I ate the last little bit and put honey on the rest of the toast (which I preferred). Lisa, I will probably save the rest of the Marmite for your next visit to the U.S. I am fond of the saying that goes, in part, the French are the cooks in heaven and the English are the cooks in hell. I suspect that the person who came up with that saying had just eaten Marmite.

1 comment:

  1. that last bit. I don't mind marmite. LOTS of Aussies living in Japan who always had a jar in their pantry, so I had multiple opportunities to eat it.