Oh yes, Marmite. Comfort and cosiness in a little round pot. I love it spread thinly on toast – maybe with a topping of cheese. I love it almost crystalline on thick, soft, white bread. I know for certain it was on Mr and Mrs Beaver’s tea table in Narnia.
As a child, I genuinely thought it came pre-scooped out. You always seemed to be scraping around for the last bit. As an adult, I really appreciate the inky smoothness of an untouched jar. My kids love it – my son especially – he will never run short of B vitamins.
My dad’s gravy has a liberal spoonful of Marmite in it. So does mine, but I never quite achieve the deep, dark glory of his gravy. I chuck a spoonful into spag bol. But mostly, I like it on toast. At the moment there are days when it just doesn’t taste right (thank you, Docetaxel) – and that’s really sad. But towards the end of the cycle, it’s OK, along with tea and coffee and chocolate biscuits. I eat all the things and drink all the things.
When we lived in New Zealand, we couldn’t get Marmite. We could only get Vegemite, which, yes, is black, and, yes, comes in a cute little round pot, and, yes, is a big umami hit, and, yes, is salty as hell BUT IT IS NOT THE SAME THING AT ALL. Marmite is nectar. Vegemite is vile. That’s obviously what the V stands for.
I’m aware there are people from the southern hemisphere who are going to disagree with me here, but this is very much about what you grow up with.
So, my big Marmite memory is when our friend Susi visited in New Zealand. She brought us Marmite. She brought us Marmite in every sized jar available – my memory is five of them? But I don’t think you can get five different sizes now. They stood on the side like a row of china ducks, ranging from a darling little purse sized jar to a mega-feed-an-army jar. They were wonderful. And a bit like Susi herself – funny, over-the-top, generous and ever so slightly bonkers. We took the smallest jar travelling with us, round Australia and then into Sri Lanka. I think we finished it (I finished it) somewhere in southern India.
This series was inspired by Tanya Shadrick. You can find her on Twitter @TanyaShadrick, and her book The Cure for Sleep is a wonderful and inspiring read. The other thing I’m connecting with is Abigail Johnstone , specifically her post Saying Goodbye. This is a list of things I love, and they are things that I guess I’m saying goodbye to. The real beauty for me is realising that every thing I love trails a string of memories behind it – and they are the thing that’s really precious.