Vegemite or Marmite

Vegemite or Marmite

Good black muck. Marmite/Vegemite is made from yeast extract, a byproduct of beer making. It has a strong salty flavor that some people have gone so far as to  complain about in song. This is difficult to understand as the stuff contains large doses umami (that pleasant savory taste in everything from soy sauce to parmesan cheese). My theory is that "antimarmites" are just doing it wrong. This stuff is not to be glopped on or eaten off a spoon. A dab to flavor soup, a little spread on toast with cheese––so little does so much good. So what does it taste like? It is beefiness without the beef; it is all the good roasted bits. 

So how to decide between the two? Strength of flavor seems to tip a little to Marmite, but Vegemite has the plus of spreadability. It all depends on what you are looking for in your tasty glop. I go with Vegemite simply because I live by the credo of No More Torn Toast.

Keep in mind that there is a third contender: a version made only for the Australasian market that is also confusingly called Marmite. It is made by a completely different company called Sanitarium. I prefer Kraft's Vegemite, but one gathers that Sanitarium's followers are equally committed. 

JACK GILBERT'S DREADFUL FISH

JACK GILBERT'S DREADFUL FISH

 The following is from the poet Jack Gilbert's short obituary in the Boston Globe:

Jack Gilbert was a private man who rarely attended book parties or gave readings. He wrote often about Pittsburgh and his childhood, food and sex, and personal pain.

Home, food, sex, childhood, pain. It strikes me how these disparate but sustaining things find themselves so close to each other. 
How none of them are all good or all bad.

This poem begins Jack Gilbert's collection The Great Fires:

 

Going Wrong

The fish are dreadful. They are brought up

the mountain in the dawn most days, beautiful

jack gilbert.jpg

and alien and cold from night under the sea,

the grand rooms fading from their flat eyes,

Soft machinery of the dark, the man thinks,

washing them. “What can you know of my machinery!”

demands the Lord. Sure, the man says quietly

and cuts into them, laying back the dozen struts,

getting to the muck of something terrible.

The Lord insists: “You are the one who chooses

to live this way. I build cities where things

are human. I make Tuscany and you go to live

with rocks and silence.” The man washes away

the blood and arranges the fish on a big plate.

Starts the onions in the hot olive oil and puts

in peppers. “You have lived all year without women.”

He takes out everything and puts in the fish.

“No one knows where you are. People forget you.

You are vain and stubborn.” The man slices

tomatoes and lemons. Takes out the fish

and scrambles eggs. I am not stubborn, he thinks,

laying all of it on the table in the courtyard

full of early sun, shadows of swallows flying

on the food. Not stubborn, just greedy.


Notice how those shadows bless this simple meal with their tiny crosses. 
Such small things in a poem that booms with the voice of God.  
There is struggle here: with God, with self, with beauty. 
It is important to recognize the value of a muck-filled thing, 
more important to wash out the blood yourself.

Laphroig 10 Year

Laphroig 10 Year

THE young Scotch. A 10 year old brute that tastes strong of medicine and of the ocean. Laphroig, like many of its peaty Islay brothers, certainly has the reputation for being an “acquired taste”.  The trick with this youngster is that none of the aggressive tendencies are given a chance to mellow like you would see in a Lagavulin 16. Throw in that this short aging process translates to a lower price, and it becomes difficult understanding all those sweet Macallen’s behind glass at your local liquor store. Let those who want sherry drink sherry; let us drink this.