Friday, March 17, 2006

Good spreads

I used to use Epicurious a lot, until they started littering their site with pop-up ads, including the kind that crawl up your screen till you click them away. But I recently revisited them and either my pop-up blocker works better these days or they've done away with the ads.

I see Epicurious' editor has a blog now (you have to sign up for their mailing list to comment though) in which she discussed one of my favourite things from England, Marmite, and observed that taste preferences are somewhat polarised on the matter. There are those of us who think it is an indispensible item for the larder, and those who would only use it to poison the slugs, all of which is tastefully documented on Marmite's own site.

Personally I think a lot of those who try it once and gag are simply using too much, in quantities appropriate to something milder, like peanut butter. But it's very concentrated so must be spread very thinly to enjoy it properly; I think using lots of butter is also important. And it is a wonderful thing to have on hand to flavour soups and gravies: totally vegetarian and wheat-free to boot. Marmite has an interesting marketing campaign; what other brand actually sells sloganed ("J'd├ęteste Marmite") t-shirts to its detractors? And who buys them?

Once when I visited Amsterdam, a helpful local suggested I buy pindakaas as a good typically Dutch treat to take home. I had to tell her we already had peanut butter, which I suppose other countries might claim as typically theirs as well. Interesting , this proprietary pride in snack foods.

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