Archive for February, 2009

Yay! Spam protected, upload enabled, yeast spread pix

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

And here they are, the blessed twins.9414942110252




Well to be honest I’ve never tasted Our Mate, unless it really is exactly like British Marmite, in which case I know it all too well but still prefer the Kiwi one.

A Vegemite update

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

A Kiwi friend sent me a link to a Foodtown website page (Foodtown’s the biggest supermarket chain, at least in the Auckland area) where the whole range of available yeast extracts is laid out to view. It’s a bit like a candy store for me. There are many different sizes of Vegemite (although, interestingly, no tubes of the stuff) and not only my old favourite, New Zealand Marmite, but also something called ‘Our Mate’ which is packaged to look like British Marmite – and which is, apparently, a virtually identical product. Oh, and there’s Bovril, and something called Promite, too. I see this page as a testament to the unpredictable complexities and preferences of the human race. But irritatingly I’m having techie problems and can’t upload either the beguiling Foodtown page, or the individual shots of Our Mate and New Zealand Marmite. Coming soon to a blog near you – but not, alas, today.


A Vegemite story

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Every Thursday morning after my Pilates class I treat myself to breakfast at a wonderful local place – and if you live anywhere near Primrose Hill in north London, then Melrose & Morgan’s worth a visit. And every Thursday morning, if I want to – and I usually do want to – I can have Marmite on my sourdough toast while reading the local paper and drinking outstandingly good coffee.

But now I’ll have to put my story on pause for a minute and explain about Vegemite and Marmite, for anyone reading this who’s neither a New Zealander nor an Australian. Here’s the short version of the back story: Vegemite was developed in Australia in 1923, when Marmite – imported from the UK – was in short supply. At about the same time the Sanitarium Health Food Company in New Zealand started producing their own Marmite, which isn’t exactly the same as the UK version – it’s lighter and sweeter. Either way, any one of these three products is (a) based on a yeast extract, (b) highly addictive, and (c) either adored or loathed the world around.

Look, there are websites for each product. There are songs; there’s even a Vegemite ring-tone to download. So you can get the picture, even if you don’t share the passion. It’s like religion, OK?

So anyway, there I am in Melrose & Morgan on Thursday mornings, carefully spreading a righteously thin layer of UK Marmite on my toast. I’m more or less OK with UK Marmite although I’d much rather have Vegemite, and most of all I’d use NZ Marmite if I could find it. (And since I once, to my shame, failed a blind tasting of UK Marmite v Vegemite, my taste discrimination may not be top notch.) But then, tragedy struck! For the past five weeks M&M have steadfastly been out of Marmite, and have inexplicably failed to replace it. So every Thursday I enter the shop with hope in my heart, and every Thursday I face disappointment as well as the growing impatience of the mostly Australasian kitchen staff who feel my pain, and run a counterpoint melody in the background. I say plaintively: “But haven’t you ordered the Marmite yet?” and the kitchen staff say, sotto voce: “Should be Vegemite anyway.” And so on.

But I have now cunningly equipped myself with a tube of Vegemite, easy to carry in a handbag. And this Thursday I shall stride in, whip the Vegemite tube out of my bag, slap it down on the counter, and say: “Problem solved!” I expect the kitchen staff will cheer. We’ll probably also have a short round of ‘Waltzing Matilda’, or ‘God Defend New Zealand’. And then I’ll have my breakfast.

Oh, it’s an event now, is it?

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

What is this about a weather event – even, a snow event? 

What’s suddenly wrong with calling it a fall of heavy snow? 

I hate to sound like “Bothered of Bognor” but honestly, isn’t the snow difficult enough (and oh yes indeed, very pretty, and great fun with the snowpersons and snowballs, and that’s enough already) without it also having to be tiresomely described as an event?

But it looks like the event was appreciated along the road (the impassable road) on Primrose Hill. 




Updike at rest

Monday, February 2nd, 2009


I love this photo of John Updike; he looks like he’d be such fun to meet. But now, alas, never no more, unless there’s a heaven into which we both enter. Well, who knows, eh? 


What I know for certain, as Oprah might say, is that I was truly distraught to hear of Updike’s death. He’s been at the top of my ‘most admired writers’ list for so much of my grownup life, and I am very sad that there’ll be no more from him. I probably shouldn’t complain; he’s written so much, and I’m a keen re-reader. But still. The everyday mysteries of love and faith and domesticity won’t be the same without him. I miss him already.