World over, there are many versions of the Salade Niçoise and much debate over what constitutes the correct serving of this classic dish. Purists insist that no cooked component should be added, apart from the tuna itself, and even then the tuna is either optional or tinned (not in MY kitchen). As you can see from the title of this post, I am not a purist. Here’s my version, with an Oriental twist:
N.B. Ingredients are given per person.
Use any sort of salad leaves (Delia apparently likes rocket, I like spinach, but any sort of mixed leaf will also do. Avoid iceberg – it’s too bland and a bit seventies for my version) – enough to amply cover a dinner plate.
Haricots verts/ green beans - cooked on a rolling boil for just 5 minutes so they retain their crunch and are still bright green. Dunk them in a bowl of cold water to keep their colour bright, then pop them in the oven with a couple of nobs of butter, a shake of salt and pepper and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Leave 10 minutes on 150C or until the butter and cheese have melted. Then cool and add the beans to the salad leaves.
1 boiled egg, just warm and halved or quartered. Don’t add hot eggs to the plate as they will wilt the leaves.
A small handful of cherry tomatoes – either whole or halved, toss over the salad.
2-3 salad onions, chopped and dropped liberally across the salad.
Once all the salad ingredients are on the plate, start with the tuna. It needs watching so as not to overcook and become dry.
1 tuna steak, marinated in teriyaki sauce. Cook just a few minutes on each side, so that the centre of the steak is still pink. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and place on top of the salad. Pour any remaining teriyaki sauce over the top as this will provide an automatic dressing.
Some argue that a proper Niçoise salad should have either tuna or anchovies but not both. I’m easy on this score. The only thing I would suggest is that if you decide to add anchovies, make it the fresh, marinated anchovies as these are less salty than the preserved kind and bring a truly zesty tang to the salad.
So, as you can see, this is far from a traditional Niçoise. I blame my Pacific-rim upbringing and a love of teriyaki sauce.
When I was growing up I thought that twenty-four hours was the perfect length for a day. With age, this has changed: I’d now like thirty-six at least so that, among other things, I’d have more time to cook delicious things which take ages to prepare. As it is, I am your typical time-poor, full-time, professional woman with limited stamina and a pile of ironing that I’m never quite on top of. In spite of this, I’m ready meal-averse so at the end of most workdays, I cook. Sometimes I get so tired that by the end of it, I have no energy left to eat. Ironic, I know, but apparently quite common among my ilk.
Roll on the weekend – that blissful ideal of rest over two whole days, which seldom happens by the time housework, paperwork, special occasions and familial duties are taken into account. For just those times when hunger pangs hit but there’s little time to spare, I’ve got just the thing: a quick and easy lunch that can be thrown together in a jiffy.
Fill a bowl with cherry tomatoes cut in half, cubes of feta cheese, plenty of chopped parsley, a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice to taste. Toss and spoon onto your plate. Leftovers can be added to another meal later. Put slices of mozzarella onto slices of beef tomato, season and heat in the oven until just melted (just a few minutes at 150C). Add a few of these to the plate and garnish each with a basil leaf. That’s the hard part. Now just add anything vaguely Mediterranean you might have to your lunch: slices of prosciutto or salami, a handful of olives, some lettuce leaves topped with emergency artichokes (from the jar that dwells in the pantry) – their preserving juice creates an immediate dressing so no vinaigrette-concocting required.
For the above example I grabbed some herby ciabatta from our local deli and warmed it through while I was heating the tomatoes. Other additions might include marinated anchovies, leftover grilled vegetables, a spoonful of couscous drizzled with lime juice and coriander, a few slices of grilled halloumi tossed in lemon juice and parsley, marinated peppers, some burrata (if you’re lucky enough to have it in the fridge) sprinkled with a handful of sliced green grapes.
One last point: if you have visitors and don’t want to spend too much time wearing your trusty oven gloves, just set out all of the Mediterranean foods that you have to hand, give them each a plate and tell them to help themselves, buffet-style. Couldn’t be easier! This is a seriously low-maintenance lunch that’s tasty, healthy and just as easy to make for a crowd as it is for one person.
If you have guests and want to show that some sort of effort was made in the feeding of them, you can even tailor this lunch to a specific Mediterranean country with a minimum of hassle. For instance, if you want to put the emphasis on things Italian, drinks might include San Pellegrino with a slice of lemon, prosecco, a glass of Pinot Grigio or a chilled Nastro Azzuro. Don’t fuss over dessert: just put out some fresh fruit or have a scoop of gelato. A really snazzy ice cream trick is to serve lemon gelato with a shot of limoncello poured over the top, but don’t plan on finishing the laundry afterwards! It works just as well with strawberry gelato and fragolino… divinISSimo! Finish with espresso. If you have a machine, all well and good, but if not, there are some really good instant espresso grounds on the market nowadays - trust me, I’m über- fussy about my coffee. Serve it with a bacio or two and get everyone to read out the love messages wrapped inside. Now, that’s what I call la dolce vita.
Buon appetito a tutti!
I am a full-time working woman with a full and demanding life. I know perfectly well how to cook pancakes from scratch, be they crêpe, American-style, potato or blini, but I’d rather get the fillings right than muck about with batter after a long day at work. As Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day/ Mardi Gras falls invariably on a weekday, that dictates the need to cheat if Monsieur and I are to do the traditional thing and dine on pancakes. This is how I blitzed it for us this week:
Pop a knob of butter in a frying pan and, once melted, place a galette darker side down in the pan. Immediately start to place your filling ingredients on one half of the galette, wait for the edges to brown a little and flip the other half across the fillings so that you have a perfect half-moon oozing with deliciousness. Make sure both sides have been adequately heated (this involves a bit of flipping for the culinary gymnasts among us) then place on a plate and set aside.
In the meantime, heat the oven to about 150 Celsius. If, like me, you have an audience who will eat the galettes as fast as you can make them, and if you prefer to eat at the same time as those you’re cooking for, this is a useful trick – wait until about a short while before you want to serve the already-filled galettes, slip them into the oven for 10 minutes and they will be piping hot, as if they came straight from the pan, when they arrive at the table.
I have an entire book filled with recipes for galette fillings and the options are endless. Here are three surefire favourites that Monsieur and I enjoy, not just on Shrove Tuesday:
- The Classic Complète. Place thin slices of ham (honey roast is delicious if available) to cover half of the galette. Crack an egg on top and allow it to start to heat through, but don’t leave it so long that the galette burns. It can always continue to cook a little once in the oven. Sprinkle with grated cheese, and/or a little parmesan. Grind black pepper over the whole and close. When in half-moon shape, i.e. the fillings are covered by pancake, flip to ensure the egg gets heat from both sides. If you’d like to be a little more ambitious with the presentation, place all the ingredients at the centre of the galette, leaving about 5 centimetres uncovered around the circumference. make sure the egg is situated as close to the centre of the galette as possible. Fold in 4 edges, leaving the egg exposed but creating a roughly square shape. Serve.
- The Neptune. Arrange slices of quality smoked salmon to cover half of the galette. Dollop three tablespoons of creme fraiche on top of the salmon and spread. Sprinkle chopped chives (dill also works beautifully here) and a little parmesan cheese over all. Close as the salmon’s colour starts to turn pale but before the galette edges start to curl.
- The Vegetarian Italian. Put thin slices of mozzarella around half of the galette, dot with 5 or 6 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half. Sprinkle with parmesan and chopped or torn fresh basil leaves. You have to keep an eye on this one because if you leave it in the pan for too long the tomato juice will make it soggy and difficult to flip. One solution, if you have time, is to use regular slicing tomatoes and remove the juicy flesh and seeds beforehand.
Sweet pancakes are usually called crêpes in France, to distinguish them from the savoury galettes. To cheat for this type I used the following pre-made version, also from Ocado, although most supermarkets in the UK offer something similar:
Once again, they come in packs of 6. I am a complete traditionalist when it comes to sweet pancakes. If at all possible, Monsieur will do the French thing and fill his with Nutella, but I prefer to keep it simple:
As for the galettes, heat a knob of butter in the pan and place the crêpe darker side down in the pan. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of sugar across one half of the crêpe, squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the sugar, add a dash or two of cinnamon, fold in half and serve. An optional extra might be a squirt of chantilly or a scoop of proper vanilla ice cream. If I weren’t so convinced I’d set my head alight, I might attempt Crêpes Suzettes, but for the moment I leave that to the experts in restaurants like Les Halles, where they’re so practised that I couldn’t hope to compete.
This post is dedicated to Wise Woman of Wandsworth, who recently moved to career pastures new.
Thursdays are Farmers’ Market days in Hammersmith, where my day job is situated, and that means falafels for lunch. Former colleague, Wise Woman, may have left sunny Ham-Wham behind, but she hasn’t forgotten Falafel Thursday. Yesterday she signed off an e-mail with “Enjoy the falafel stall today.”
So here’s what all the fuss is about:
Believe me when I say that this is a short queue. People wait for ages for one of these delicious falafel wraps, the line of patrons snaking around Lyric Square. Some of my colleagues fetch their falafels at midday, to avoid the lunchtime rush. I wait until 3pm to pick mine up. You see? Our Thursday afternoon schedules are now dictated by falafels. In case you’re wondering, they are worth every moment of queuing or inconvenience.
So what’s in these wraps to make them so special? A warm flatbread is topped with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, chopped green chillies and cucumber before being drizzled liberally with mayonnaise and chilli sauce. Then the falafel balls, straight from the fryer, are squashed around the rim. Rolled together tightly in a twist of paper, they’re fresh and healthy with a mini-explosion of heat from the sauce and chillies. They’re also satisfactorily filling considering they cost £2.50 for a small or £3.00 for a large. Mind you, even though that’s inexpensive for a healthy lunch in London, yesterday a man behind me in the queue said “gosh, falafels are a lot cheaper in Iraq!” Yes, well they would be, wouldn’t they?
My first ever crush was on Tom Selleck when he was Magnum PI (and we’re not talking the re-runs here). At the time, I was young enough not to know that man + red Ferrari = mid-life crisis, nor did I realise that his shorts were too short to be decent and too tight for healthy male fertility. I loved his moustache, his wicked wink, his Detroit Tigers baseball cap and his endless wardrobe of crazy Hawaiian shirts.
One year, our family went to Hawaii for a holiday. There we were, walking along a quiet part of Waikiki Beach when, no, it couldn’t be, Magnum PI was there on the sand in front of us. My tiny little heart pounded madly as we took photos of him shooting a scene with Rick at the beach bar they hung out at so much. I was in LURVE. Back at school, my teacher gave us a project to write on that dangerous topic of ‘anything you like’. I wrote mine on Magnum PI. How sad is that?
Years later, I still thought Mr Selleck was a bit of all right when he appeared in Three Men and a Baby, and Three Men and a Little Lady. When he finally made it to Friends as OCD-suffering Monica’s latest squeeze, I sat back in appreciation of his moustache-less face. Gosh, will I ever grow up?
So what’s this got to do with Epicurienne, travel and cooking? Someone has created The Tom Selleck Cake.
Sometimes the world is simply TOO surreal.
To find out more about the talented creator of this work of art, a blogger and cake-maker extraordinaire called Alicia Policia, click here.
Last night, I was surfing the WordPress foodie blogs when I found Evolution of a Foodie. This San Francisco-based food-lover with a paralegal day job features all sorts of weird and wonderful gadgets on her site, including the Ex knife block, the voodoo toothpick holder, and my favourite (so far, anyway) the Hillary Clinton nutcracker. There are also useful kitchen tips that you probably won’t find easily elsewhere, such as how to poach salmon in a dishwasher, and no, I’m not on happy pills.
Whether or not you love food as much as I do, this is a fun blog to keep an eye on. This is a foodie with a serious sense of humour!
If you know someone called Bill who needs his nuts cracking, check out this link.
Pat Coakley of Singleforareason fame, has issued a couple of interesting blog challenges recently. There was the ‘What’s on your refrigerator?’ challenge, and now there’s the revealing ‘What’s in your refrigerator?’
Here’s why I didn’t participate in the first fridge challenge:
See? There’s nothing ON my fridge. Usually I love weird and whacky magnets, but we currently have wood covering our refrigerator, so nothing sticks to it apart from post-it notes and I’m working hard to stem my addiction to those. What’s NEXT to the fridge is a calendar of beautiful French scenery, including lots of inspiration in the form of market stall pictures. Less interesting is that vertical group of white pipes to the right. It’s some sort of ancient radiator which we leave turned off because, when it’s on, it has a habit of making sounds like a UFO landing on the roof, which can be somewhat disconcerting when it happens at 3 in the morning.
Here’s the fun part. What’s IN our fridge:
On the next shelf down is some Bonne Maman jam for tartines at the weekend, butter, garlic pulp for moments when the fresh bulbs are too dry to use, rouille for soupe de poissons and that nasty lemon juice that comes in a plastic lemon bottle. I prefer the real deal, but somehow this plasticky thing found its way here so there it stays until it expires.
Third shelf down is parmesan cheese which we use on everything from Caesar salads to pasta sauces, more milk (semi-skimmed), croutons for salads, coffee for Monsieur’s utter madam of a coffee machine (highly temperamental and sees me coming every time), feta cheese for Greek salads, salad onions, free-range eggs and a wicked raclette platter of charcuterie and cheese.
At the bottom we have Dijon mustard, more butter (has to be Président, a mild French brand, for Monsieur), half a cucumber, prosciutto and a bag full of raclette cheese from the French farmers’ market that tempts me out of the office whenever they come to town.
Hidden away in the drawers are lots of salad ingredients, fresh herbs (dill, basil, parsley, chives) tuna steaks, chicken breasts and a selection of French dried sausage in three varieties: duck, wild boar and tomme de chevre (goat’s milk cheese). I still haven’t tried the tomme de chevre type, but am curious to see how cheese works in a dried sausage. Hmmm. Intriguing.
I think you can probably now understand why Monsieur and I are destined never, ever to be size zero.
As I was growing up, World War II was still in relatively recent memory for my New Zealand family. My great uncles had fought in New Guinea, my grandfather was posted in North Africa and Italy and, as a child, my father had nightmares about Japanese soldiers breaking into his room at night. One of my great aunts had lost her first great love to the war and three neighbours were unmarried sisters whose chances at marital bliss had been shattered by the lack of single men returning from the war so had therefore set up home together. There were the incredulous tales of my mother never having seen a banana until the war was over, or of the lack of materials, of turning hems on skirts to make them last longer and other privations. Compared to what was happening in Europe, however, the New Zealanders at home were lucky. Rationing didn’t come into force until 1942 (compared to 1940 in the UK) when the purchase of sugar and tea was first restricted, and pork eating became illegal in 1943 as pig farmers were ordered to send their product to feed American troops in the Pacific. How could pork-eating possibly be illegal? Not in pig-loving New Zealand. All of these tales were by far the best thing about spending time with my mother’s family. The conversation always overflowed with anecdotes and interest.
Sometimes when we were visiting the family, we’d drive to Hastings for a change of shopping or to visit my mother’s great aunt who was stone deaf, rode a bicycle everywhere in spite of her age, and entertained us kids by giving us a big bowl of walnuts from her ancient tree in the garden with a nutcracker. Those were pre-Nintendo days, so activities like cracking nuts gave us a tremendous amount of satisfaction, especially as we didn’t crack nuts at home. If Mum wanted walnuts for her baking, she’d buy a pack of the ready-chopped variety from the supermarket. Here, they fell off a tree. How cool was that?
Another treat on the trip to Hastings was the possibility of a stop at Rush Munro’s Ice Cream Gardens in Heretaunga Street. This mecca for the ice cream lover is still in existence, having been established in 1926 by Frederick Charles Rush Munro, New Zealand’s very first ice cream manufacturer.
I remember Rush Munro’s as an ice cream parlour with a difference. The ice cream would be whittled with a spoon into a conical shape on top of a squat orange cone and always tasted a bit special. The cherry on top (not literally) in this case was the gardens where there was a fish pond filled with koi carp. I could watch the giant carp for ages as they glided around their pond in a swish of gold and white. Meanwhile, at the counter filled with drums of creamy wickedness, Mum always had trouble choosing between rum ‘n’ raisin or that staunch bastion of New Zealand ice cream creations, hokey pokey. All the usual flavours were there to choose from: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, boysenberry and banana. Checking out the current list, I am interested to see the following concoctions: feijoa, malted milk, maple walnut and passionfruit, with the promise of more flavours in development.
Yes, there is such a thing as a boysenberry and for some reason, just as we have a fondness for hokey pokey ice cream in New Zealand, so do we appreciate this strange berry that sounds as if it belongs on the pages of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I know what they look like and I know what they taste like (a bit like a raspberry with greater depth and richness; a bit tart) but I also know that in the UK I have never, ever heard mention of boysenberries, be they in ice cream, in tins on supermarket shelves, in recipes or on cooking shows. So, in my ignorance, I turned to Wikipedia to help me out and find out that they are:
“suspected to be a cross between a loganberry and the western dewberry,”
and that they were: “discovered on Rudolph Boysen’s farm in northern California. Walter Knott was the first to commercially cultivate it in southern California. His family’s small restaurant and pie business eventually grew into the theme park, Knott’s Berry Farm.”
I’ve been to Knott’s Berry Farm so I’ve therefore unwittingly visited the home of the boysenberry but on that particular excursion I was barely eight years old and far more interested in panning for gold or taking rollercoasters than discovering the ancestral home of a fruit.
Still not quite over the rollercoaster stage but definitely more interested in food origins, I googled a few UK supermarkets. No boysenberry anything available, so it would seem. But if you google ‘boysenberry uk’ there are some places you might be able to pick up some jam if you crave a taste of it. Apparently a certain J.O. Sims, fruit specialist, introduced the fruit to the UK from New Zealand in 2001. Now it can be found here and there in ice cream or yoghurt or jam, but it certainly hasn’t gone mainstream. For now, boysenberries in the UK are a specialty purchase for those in the know.
London is full of wonderful places to eat, both with or without Michelin stars, but as most Londoners will attest, some of the best eateries are local secrets. Street Hawker is one of ours. Located so close to Maida Vale tube stop that it might as well be part of the station, Street Hawker is tiny, with only a handful of wipe-down laminated tables and its faithful following jostling for elbow room. Take away patrons sit by the door, flicking through copies of Hello or OK! Magazine, or drag on a fag outside. Everyone is patient. There are no reservations. No one complains. The food here is simply worth any wait and inconvenience.
Street Hawker’s menu is crammed full of favourite dishes from the Far East. If you’re hungry enough, you can make a culinary tour of the whole region, starting with Vietnamese Spring Rolls, moving on to a steaming hot Laksa, following that up with Singapore Mee Goreng, a plate of hot Thai Gaeng Keo Wan with Monk’s vegetables and finish it all off with Teriyaki prawns. Then again, the portions are generous, so you probably wouldn’t make it through more than two or three countries’ worth of deliciousness.
Monsieur and I have both eaten in and taken away and we’re fans of both. In spite of the lack of space, there’s a wonderful atmosphere at Street Hawker. In its absolutely no-frills appearance, with a glass of cool Singaporean lager in hand and aromas of coriander, lemongrass and coconut milk wafting past our twitching noses, it’s possible to imagine oneself seated at a hawker stall in a land far, far away. It’s also worth the trek to collect a take away, but don’t be late because the manager will tell you off and if your deepest craving is for one of the soups, you’ll see a warning on the menu: “NOT AVAILABLE FOR TAKE-AWAY”. In reality, if you take along a big enough tupperware container and ask nicely, you will be allowed to take home one of their divine laksas or a kau chi dumpling noodle soup. Once again, the effort will be worthwhile.
Monsieur and I will gladly recommend the crispy chicken moneybags - small and crunchy mouthfuls of chicken minced with vegetables, shitake mushrooms and spring onions, perfect for dipping into the accompanying chilli dipping sauce which is so intensely fire-engine red that it almost glows in the dark and will keep your taste buds tingling for some time. We almost always choose some pancake duck wrappers, based on your typical Peking duck experience, served with salad garnish, hoisin and chilli sauce. There’s the option to pay for extra pancakes so make sure you do because the first lot will disappear all too quickly. The Street Hawker version of Phad Thai is the best I’ve ever eaten and has become a top-rated comfort food, but it’s a good idea to semi-starve yourself before eating this one; it’s BIG. Meanwhile, Monsieur’s current favourite is chargrilled Blackened Chilli Pork, marinated in dark soy, palm sugar, ginger, garlic and chilli, but don’t forget the rice, as I did on one occasion. While this absent-mindedness delayed the start of chow down as I quickly cooked up some Uncle Ben’s Boil in the Bag to go with the pork, the scents of all the delightful spices and blends almost killed me. It was a very uncomfortable 15 minutes.
Street Hawker’s prices are more than reasonable for food of such freshness and quality in almost-Central London: a typical main will set you back between £5 and £8. The portions are generous and the flavours authentic. According to Monsieur and me, a pair of enthusiastic foodies, this particular local secret is definitely worth a visit, although it may not stay quiet for much longer. As I sign off, my stomach is grumbling and my mind is on chicken in a nyonya bean sauce with cashews… Monsieur, you’d better cancel all plans for Friday night! We’re off to Street Hawker.
One of the best things about the weekend is Vegemite toast. I love Vegemite toast. Coming from south of the equator, as I do, it is natural to like Vegemite. It’s one of the most praiseworthy Aussie creations and pretty much everyone I know from Australia or New Zealand eats it in some way, shape or form. Some poor misled creatures from Downunder, however, prefer Marmite. Blurgh.
Whenever I think of Vegemite, I think of a Japanese girl who joined our class when we were 12 years old. Her father had taken a company transfer to New Zealand and the whole family had been reading up on their new country. On arrival at their new Auckland home, Japanese Pal went directly to the back garden, looking for the eighty sheep she thought would be there, based on the ratio of sheep to people that had been mentioned in one of their guides. There were no sheep. They lived on farms or grazed in parkland. They did not live crammed into the back yard of an Eastern Suburbs bungalow. Japanese Pal was disappointed.
Back in the house her parents were opening a welcome basket left by the relocation company. Inside was a massive jar of Vegemite. To quell Japanese Pal’s disappointment at not having 80 new pet lambs to play with, she grabbed the Vegemite and spread it thickly on a slice of bread. Then she bit into it and she never ate Vegemite again. Japanese Pal had thought this spread would taste like her favourite Japanese chocolate variety. She didn’t realise it was a concentrated yeast extract with an acquired taste that should never be eaten in quantity.
In the UK a popular Marmite ad campaign states that you either ‘Love it or hate it’. Too true. Personally I hate it. Most of my antipodean friends agree with me. After growing up with Vegemite, Marmite tastes greasy. It may be a yeast extract, just like Vegemite, but in my experience, if you’ve been raised with one, you’ll never like the other.
One day at work a debate started about which -Mite we liked. Wise Woman of Wandsworth swore by Marmite. Via e-mail, Former Flatmate pledged his allegiance to Marmite also (he has a small addiction to the stuff and even owns a sterling silver lid engraved with the Marmite logo which can be screwed on to a Marmite jar). I wasn’t going to be outdone. Summoning every Antipodean in our workforce, I canvassed their opinion on which -Mite did it for them. The answer was unanimous: Vegemite. Meanwhile, all of our British colleagues backed Marmite. Hmmm. Intriguing. I put this Mite-y phenomenon down to Nurture, not Nature.
On Facebook there is a Vegemite appreciation group (all this for a sandwich spread?). In the profile a poem appears:
We’re happy little Vegemites
As bright as bright can be.
We all enjoy our Vegemite
For breakfast, lunch, and tea.
Our mother says we’re growing
stronger every single week.
Because we love our Vegemite.
We all adore our Vegemite.
It puts a rose in every cheek!
This might be taking it a bit too far. In the comments section, one facebooker recommends dipping almonds in Vegemite whilst another quotes the song ‘Land Downunder’ by Men at Work:
Buying bread from a man in Brussels
He was six foot four and full of muscles
I said, “Do you speak-a my language?”
He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich
I guess the influence of Vegemite is widespread. (No pun intended!)
Marmite also has a page on Facebook. It states:
Eat Marmite? You don’t just want to eat it, you want to bathe in it, wallow in it like a hippo in mud, slather yourself from head to toe and wrap yourself in bread and butter… And you know what? That’s fine. Just fine. Completely normal in fact…
Thanks anyway, but I’ll pass. Those suggestions aside, things could be worse and indeed at times they’re bordering on mental illness. Just check out the photo of the statue made of Marmite. I think that’s what we’d call OTT.
On What’s Cooking America, there is a brief history of Vegemite, with a highly entertaining comment contributed by a Vegemite connoisseur. Read this for a smile:
“Your explanation is mostly fine, but some of us like a fair coating of the stuff, not just a scrape. I’ll eat it out of the jar! But one of the most useful tips to give any cook, is how it can save an anemic gravy: When a gravy lacks colour or flavour, a quarter to a half teaspoon or so always saves the day. Young-uns often wonder why my gravy is always so good; and if they’re nice, I let them in on the secret that my Grandma told me. Funny to think my family has used a product since it was invented. Thanks for the history lesson, and try Vegemite in your gravy, you’ll love it!
You might like to know that when the company sold overseas, it was cause for national concern…everybody was outraged, and worried that “the Yanks would stuff-it-up”. People were ringing radio stations calling for the government to stop the sale. Private citizens were trying to raise funds to make a counter offer…you wouldn’t believe the furor it created.
Another favourite use of my Mum’s, when she felt run-down, was vegemite ‘soup’; just a teaspoon of vegemite in boiling water. I used to like thinly sliced raw cabbage, garlic and vegemite sandwiches. (Sounds terrible, but very healthy and yummy.) Every kid in Australia ate Vegemite on SAO biscuits; often with tomato, and, or cheese. This combo is particularly yummy grilled as an open sandwich with Kraft sliced cheese, (the way it bubbles up and browns-off…yum!)
I’m an easy going old bloke, and I have a young lodger who gets away with murder because I “don’t give a rats” about money or anything – you could hit me with a cricket bat and I’d blink at you, LOL – anyway, he used the last of the Vegemite the other month…God he was lucky I didn’t rip his head off, LOL. Now I keep an emergency jar hidden away for myself, just in case.
Growing-up, only ‘pommies and wankers’ ate marmite; I still haven’t tasted it (excuse the language.) We all agreed the best pies were “Sergeants pies”, though we’d eat “Four and Twenty” if that was all we could get. People argued about Ford and Holden; and we’re still arguing about which code of football is best…but apart from cricket, vegemite is one of the great unifying forces – no matter your politics or standing in life, we all love our Vegemite.
What ever you do, don’t muck with the recipe too much, or you can forget about being allies. LOL.
NB. It was a national tragedy the day that Sergeants stopped baking pies. People went around buying-up the last run, and freezing them. It was very sad I remember; we mourned their passing for years, quite literally. The new ones are ok, but not a patch on the original. (Aussies used to have them flown overseas when touring.) It’s the highest praise for a pie to say it’s almost as good as a Sergeants.”
Passions certainly run high when it comes to the Mite-y wars. I’ll always be on the side of Vegemite, and will have to keep my head low in this land of Marmite-lovers lest a low flying jar of the stuff knocks me unconscious. It’s certainly a bizarre situation, having such competition between sandwich spreads. I mean, who ever heard of such a war between Bonne Maman and another jam? Or between two brands of peanut butter? With appreciation groups on social networking sites and statues constructed of the stuff you’d usually put on toast? I don’t know. It can’t be normal.