I bloody love a good extract, me.
Specifically, Marmite. God damn. That shit (figuratively) is good. I mean, okay, “yeast extract” makes it sound a little like the byproduct of a medical condition, but it’s just so packed full of umami goodness that I can happily overlook that.
It wasn’t until my university days that I got on board the Marmite bandwagon. Previously I had fallen firmly into the “hate” camp. Then, one day I got really drunk. The post booze hunger hit hard and I needed savoury snackage. As it was toward the end of term, money was tight. So tight, in fact, that my own cupboard contained no food whatsoever. Not even biscuits. Not even cheese. Not even a lonely, mouldy crust of Tesco Value bread.
My flatmate, in a similarly foodless situation, sat in the corner watching as I scrimmaged for sustenance. Casually, cruelly, he suggested that perhaps I’d like some Marmite. Just a spoonful of that thick brown gloop would satiate my savoury hankerings for a week.
For the record, eating a spoonful of Marmite is not the most pleasant thing I’ve ever done. It burns a bit. But it was an epiphany. I LOVE Marmite!
Nearly a decade has passed since that watershed moment, and my relationship with Marmite has remained solid. Unwaveringly monogamous. Until six months ago.
A stay with a good friend in London saw temptation rear its head; she had no Marmite for our post-booze toast session. I queried how this could be so, and the answer shocked me:
“I prefer Bovril”
I was in no mood for experimentation, so I stuck with just butter.
All was well, I returned home and thought no more of this alternative extract. But my friend visited recently, bringing with her a small gift: a jar of Marmite’s beefy brother, Bovril.
Now the usurper was in my house it was only a matter of time until I would try it. I pre-empted the inevitable and cracked the seal on the jar later that day.
Bovril is a revelation. It is easier to spread. It has a slightly mellower taste, still able to scratch the umami itch, but less likely to strip a layer of flesh from the roof of your mouth. I am officially a two extract man now.
But, I wonder, where next? My appetite for toasted bread products is voracious. How long before I find myself Vegemite curious? What other, more obscure extracts are out there, just waiting to tantalise my taste buds?
*drools on keyboard*