Thursday, April 07, 2005


I have finally run out of the huge tubs of marmite that I brought from England. We love Marmite. Okay, that we might be stretching it, but Kadin and I, and even sometimes Greg, eat Marmite regularly. It is a gooey yeast extract that has been compared to engine grease and many deem inedible, but it is a weaning food in England and Kadin and I especially enjoy a snack of Marmite on a rice cakes with tahini and sprouts. (This idea was prompted by a box of sprouts we bought in England that said, “a traditional way to eat sprouts is with Marmite and tahini on a rice cake.” Well, a new tradition to my ears, but it sounded good, so I tried it.) Marmite makes a great food for camping too as it doesn’t need refrigeration. How many sandwiches can you make entirely from foods that don’t need to be refrigerated? Oh yeah, and do I need to add that it is highly nutritious, packed with B vitamins?

I like marmite as a savory spread that isn’t oily like nut butters (or engine grease!). It is one of those funny foods that tastes a bit too strong alone, so it needs something to tone it down. Tahini is also one of those foods that I feel is a bit too intense on its own, but miraculously, when combined with marmite, is perfect. Marmite is salty, so it goes great with eggs, avocado, cheese, onions, and anything fresh and green like sprouts or lettuce or green beans or cucumbers or scallions or even beets (not green, but their sweetness makes a great contrast to the tangy marmite).

I was pleased to see marmite in the stores when I arrived here. It came in small, expensive jars, but it was in most ordinary grocery stores. I figured I would hold out for another big import from the UK, but if I did run out in the meanwhile, I could easily get it here. Well, suddenly, as soon as I was running out and started looking for it (as opposed to happening across it while looking for something else) I couldn’t find it. Doesn't it often seem to go like that? I scoured the peanut butter, jelly, and condiment aisles. I tried several different stores and the “health food” section of different stores to no avail. I would ask for it, but nobody had heard of it or knew where to find it. “I know you have it,” I would say, lamely.

Finally, yesterday at Safeway, I asked a clerk if they had any Marmite. He gave the usual “never heard of it” response to which a woman nearby replied in a British accent, “It’s a savoury sandwich spread and I know you have it.” We still couldn’t find it, but now I had an ally in the search. We told him we thought it would be with the sandwich spreads or condiments, but it wasn’t. He got interested in finding out what it was. “If it is a yeast item you might find it in the baking section.” He suggested. “No, no, no!” we both said. The other woman described its signature dark brown, plump jar and it’s savory taste. It wasn’t used in baking, but maybe for gravies or soups. He went to go search a computer. Kadin was slumped over, waiting, in the cart. Rees, other things on his mind, went off to get some Star Wars Cheeze-Its. Just as the man was returning we heard a yell from a couple aisles over. The British woman had found it. It was in fact in the baking aisle, but with the powdered egg whites and puddings. “I think you have it misfiled,” she said. I’ll say, I would never have thought to look for it with the Jello-brand products. But hey, they had it. I will now keep my eyes open and try to remember in which section the marmite is categorized. Bet you know what we are having for lunch today.

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