Biting winds and yeasty bans
|By Will Jones - The Outsider | January 30, 2014
Imagine the scenario: there I was all ready to write my column about the pond hockey championship that is currently taking Haliburton by storm. There I was braving the frigid temperatures, howling winds and low-flying pucks in order to get a sense of the occasion. There I was quill and partially frozen ink poised to make note of every noteworthy event, when, out of the blue, an incident of international proportions up and landed squarely at my feet, or rather, just short of my taste buds.
The British press screamed ‘Canada has banned Marmite!’
A Facebook post from a friend in Blighty tipped me off to this horror story, and, with a few clicks of the mouse, I’d confirmed the sorry tale as true.
My mate Marmite was outlawed, or so I thought.
Now, for those of you not in the know, Marmite is the most wonderfully scrumptious savoury spread that anyone has ever smeared across a piece of toast. I admit that it does look and feel like tar, and that it is a by-product (read waste product) of the brewing industry. I will also say that some misguided folks absolutely hate it but that’s their own fault for being culinary philistines!
Anyhoo, if ever there was a scandal to shake the foundations of the relationship between England and its Canadian Commonwealth sibling to the core, this must be it. English newspaper articles branded Canadians as gun toting, seal clubbing maniacs, then taunted them because they couldn’t handle the delectable sauciness that is Marmite. They dared you to arrest Rob Ford for any number of heinous crimes but decided that you’d gone for the soft option and opted to take out your ire on our most English of English yeast-based tangy spreads instead.
They even threatened to send back all the Celine Dion and Justin Bieber records that currently infect the UK [note to self, check if Bieber even puts out his music on ‘records’ and remember that any reference to ‘records’ does age oneself somewhat].
I understand that Marmite is not to everyone’s taste. Indeed, its slogan is ‘you either love it or you hate it.’ But a nationwide ban? That is tantamount to England banning hunting… hmm, yep, we pretty much did that. Seal skin gloves… again yep, we did that. Maple syrup. Aha, yes, it is the same as England banning maple syrup. Can you imagine?
Granted the headlines also mentioned that you’d banned Irn-Bru, too. Now, this is no bad thing because it tastes vile and is Scotland’s ‘other’ national drink, and I don’t mind anything that pokes fun at the Scots. But banning Marmite is, sorry was, unthinkable.
Now, you’ll notice my altering of tense – from is to was. Not more than the time it takes for a taste bud to tingle at the merest notion of the gooey black stuff, after I fled from the hockey rinks to add my own vitriolic ire to the storm about the Marmite ban, the news came through that it had all been a mistake.
Canada has not banned Marmite, so CTV news revealed.
I can hear the collective sigh of relief or gagging of repulsion as you read this, such are the black and white reactions to a slice of marmite on toast. Yes, it seems that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has clarified that Marmite has been cleared, along with Irn-Bru, and can still be bought in stores nationwide. Hurrah.
Now, back to the hockey. Crikey blimey it was cold. The wind whipped drifts of snow across the rinks, the players huddled in the hospitality tent, and the zamboni driver had to be chipped from his seat at one point, but the show went on.
And then there was the film, the premiere no less, of There’s Something in the Water. What an event for little Haliburton. With a super-sized screen, bonfire, hot chocolates and VIP area, the night was all but complete. It was a tad chilly mind you but that’s to be expected if you hold a film screening outside, at night, in January, in Canada, eh!
You know what would have taken the chill off? I do. Marmite. A teaspoon of Marmite in a cup of boiling water makes for the most wonderfully warming broth imaginable. A yeasty feast in a cup, how could anyone not like that? The trouble was, all the Marmite had been cleared from the shelves, whisked from the aisles, confiscated, for fear of breaking the ban.
Well I say down with you Marmite malcontents and up with pond hockey followed by a warming yeasty beverage. See you at the rinks (I’ll be the one with the funny smelling drink).
WILL JONES - The Outsider