Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Abandoned Marmite, or Why Some Foods Don't Travel Well

Those of you who are not completely up to date with the critical issues in current international news may have missed the controversy that this advert has stirred up across the British Isles. Some people are shocked by the way the serious themes of child and animal abuse have been evoked for something so frivolous as the marketing of the salty, malty tea time spread. Others think the ad is funny. And then there are the people who are reminded that they actually do have a somewhat neglected jar of Marmite in the cupboard and they had better eat it soon.

In my case, it's not one jar, but two. Two lovingly imported pots of the black, tarry stuff that have been lingering at the back of the shelf for well over a year. (I'm pretty sure it keeps forever though.)

And yet, my mother was horrified to discover that after only one week of my presence in her house, their jar was practically finished, because I have been eating it every day for breakfast and sometimes  for lunch as well.

It seems that there are some foods which just don't travel well, and not because they're fragile or perishable. In the case of Marmite, I think the problem is actually French bread. It doesn't toast well enough, and the flavour of your average baguette is far too delicate to cope with Marmite's strong taste. I rarely buy other kinds of bread from the boulangerie because they're very expensive, come in awkward shapes, and tend to go too hard even for toasting by the second day. And don't even get me started on the weird sugariness of "American Sandwich" bread which you can't even buy in thick slices.

Here are some other foods which fall into this category:

Spritz Aperol: this is probably my favourite summer drink in Italy, but I've never been tempted to bring a bottle home and, despite the recent marketing campaign, I don't see myself ordering it in a UK bar either. It's a drink for hot weather and is best when mixed by an attractive Italian bar man :-)

Fish Suppers: should only be eaten after a day of serious physical work, preferably sitting on a concrete wall while the sea breeze blows slightly damp air in your face.

Cheese fondue: again, you really need to have spent a day in the mountains to deserve this one, and it always tastes better when both the cheese and the wine are local.

Would you add any others to the list?


  1. Gwan has ordered a jar when I come over from NZ. Not sure if she eats it on a baguette or what...

    1. I'm sure everyone's burning to know! I do like it on a baguette (the strong flavour is fine with me) or on brown/multigrain toast. That said, it's definitely not something I eat every day here, I just like to have it around for when I have a craving.

      The only thing I can think of is I have bars of gianduja chocolate I bought in Italy over 3 years so sitting in my drawer! I think I wanted to save them instead of scoffing them straight away, and now I think they're too old to eat, but for some reason I've never got around to throwing them away either, since I just tend to spot them every now and again when looking for something else (it's not a drawer I go into very often, but there's some random stuff like travel adapters I need to hunt out occasionally).

    2. I shall overcome my prejudices and try Marmite on baguette then! Interestingly, when I gave it to French visitors in Scotland once, they didn't object to the flavour, but thought it would be better used in sauces and soups than on bread.

      I could never keep gianduja chocolate for 3 years. Very impressed by your self-control!

  2. I think food in general doesn't travel well, which is why I never bring back any from France. I'm not sure why but my taste buds adapt to Canadian food (and local treats!) after a couple of days. I like my French treats... in France.