John Kelly's Washington

John Kelly: Marmite fans need to roll with the mocking

By John Kelly
Thursday, December 3, 2009

After I mocked Marmite in my Monday column I felt the full force of the yeast extract industrial complex.

Several readers accused me of claiming that Marmite -- a popular English spread -- was made from anchovies. I did no such thing. I merely said it was as salty as hundreds of anchovies. No, it's 100 percent yeast extract. Yummy, yummy vegetarian yeast extract.

Susan Morris of Purcellville was not amused. "As an ex-Brit I found your description of it very offensive. We are raised to eat Marmite on toast from the age when it is possible for a child to eat solid food."

But just because something is a tradition doesn't make it right!

Susan continued: "In no way does it resemble your description. . . . I can assure you there are many foods I have discovered down here in Virginia that make me want to throw up, such as grits. Even the name sounds disgusting. However, I would not be so rude to point out this fact to everyone around me who appear to enjoy this concoction."

Note to Susan's friends: Do not serve her grits at your next dinner party, unless they are Marmite grits.

The District's Yoma Ullman is also English by origin. "I spent the years until I was 9 in India," she wrote. "Food went bad there very fast indeed. Marmite did not go bad."

The obvious question: How can you tell when Marmite does go bad?

Yoma continued: "Marmite was on my sandwiches for years and years. It is, in fact, the English equivalent of peanut butter. I've been American since 1968 but I still can't eat peanut butter. It sticks to the roof of my mouth and threatens to choke me."

Yoma, you are obviously eating it upside down. Turn your sandwiches over!

She continued: "My father said that eating Marmite would deprive me of tasting food, the last pleasure of life according to him. It hasn't so far, and I am 73. So, lay off the Marmite. Some of us love it."

Silver Spring's John Rossi is among them. His mother is English, his father American. John wrote: "In our family, it comes down to three of us loving Marmite (Mom, older brother and me) and three hating it (Dad, sister and little brother). That is about how it is in England, too."

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