04
Sep
08

Edible relative weirdness

Whilst making my breakfast this morning I had a momentary flash of objectivity where I realised how bizarre my toast would be to the vast majority of the world. Well, not the toast itself – bread is pretty global now – but rather what I put on it.

Breakfast of champions

Breakfast of champions

One piece of toast above has maple butter on it. Maple butter – called maple cream or maple spread in other places – is something that only comes from the region where I grew up: eastern Canada and the northeastern US. That’s because that’s the only place in the world suitable for growing sugar maple trees, the sap of which is boiled down to make maple syrup (with which more people will be familiar). Common in the maple-producing regions, but rarely exported like maple syrup, maple butter is made just like maple syrup except that a bit more of the water is boiled away (to make it thicker) and then air is stirred into it (to make it creamy).

Most of us like something sweet. Everyone I know that enjoys the taste of maple syrup goes into convulsions of gustatorial ecstasy the first time they try maple butter. It is very, very good.

The other piece of toast has Marmite on it. Marmite is the thick, sticky, salty, powerful-tasting yeast extract left behind as part of the process of making beer. I dareseay opinions on its taste are a great deal more polarised than are those for maple products: the company’s own slogan is that people either love it or hate it. My previous blogging makes clear where my tastes lie.

Marmite – and similar products like Vegemite – is made in several places around the world. There are certainly large parts of the planet where people know nothing about it, though. Most North Americans I know regard it with a pretty wary (if not repulsed) eye when I explain what it is. I think that people like me, who learned to love Marmite as adults, are pretty rare.

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