Posts from 11th January 2008

Jan 08

Wither Marmite Grand Cru?

FT + Pumpkin Publog3 comments • 893 views

As loathe as I am to suggest I and my fellow food scientist at Freaky Trigger has started a trend, yet another Marmite Special Edition has reminded me of an experiment we did a few years ago. So yes yes, to Valentine’s Day themed Champagne Marmite, which much like last year Guinness Marmite takes the subtle, go with anything taste of marmite and – well one assumes it just tastes of Marmite. Because, you know, Marmite is a really, really strong flavour. At least the champagne involved is probably that cheapo stuff from Woolies. But if you can think of any other flavours Marmite can completely mask, why not suggest it here.

But nevertheless, before these silly stunts started, we came up with a proper Marmite brand extension, namely Marmite Grand Cru.


Spoiling Halva

FT + Pumpkin Publog5 comments • 1,587 views


Halva is an acquired taste – I’ve never successfully convinced anyone who’s not had it before that it is nice, despite my efforts. I think it’s the uneasy marriage of bitter and slightly sickly. Last night I was wandering about a local shop looking for ricotta (nothing doing) when I stumbled across this – Helva’m produced by Sebahat. I had to buy some, I liked the shape of the container. It excited me to think I could possess it and have it in my house FOR ALL TIME.I got home and had a bit, as an appetiser before my wonderfully healthy dinner of tiger prawns, broccoli and asparagus (which I later spoiled, condiment wise, by mistaking the balsamic vinegar for the soy sauce. Aciiid!). But back to the helva. Halva. Whatever. It looked like Nutella. I dug down into it a bit expecting some beige strata at some point, but it was Nutella-y all the way down (usually when I eat  halva I like to pretend I am on Time Team, excavating a site. With a teaspoon). It tasted like Nutella without the hazelnuts – ie dull. Just plain Ella. I could just about get a hint of the sesame tones of halva, but very faintly. I am quite capable of eating stupid amounts of almost anything, often regardless of taste, but I couldn’t really see a point in continuing to eat the Helva’m.

It wasn’t the taste that finally stopped me, mind you – it was the consistency. You know how Nutella is spreadable, in a way that means however much you want to to eat it straight from the glass, you feel compelled to employ a bready mediator for the sake of decency? That’s a good thing. It’s useful to be able to spread spread. The picture on the Helva’m tub suggests a similar spreading fate for its contents, but the consistency is like a thick clay. You’d have to melt this stuff before it would spread evenly, and even then I’m not convinced it would work. So I figured it was meant to be eaten from the tub, because who’d be crazy enough to melt this stuff down each time they wanted a snack?! (Well, I say ‘I figured’; I was actually too lazy to bother doing anything else). I found myself having to bite the stuff off the spoon, which is not the intended consumption technique for spoons – I tried licking it, but the damn stuff was practically waterproof, like slightly softer plasticine. Once in my mouth it took a lot of mastication to get it to unstick from my palate. My neck muscles actually ached trying to swallow a spoonful. Then I got a headache. So, er, thanks Sebahat, for ruining halva for me. The name even connotes hesitation if you squint a bit – Helva?  Um ……no thanks.

Helva’m tastes of very little, is waterproof and incredibly sticky. I think I’m going to grout the bathroom with it.