Horses are a lot like Marmite. From just a small poll you can lump people into 2 categories: people who love horses, and people who are scared of them. That’s not to say that those who are scared of them also hate them. You can love something from a distance, or say, from the other side of a fence. You can also want to love something, but just not be able to get past the fear. It’s much the same with the brown spread. As someone who comes from the town where it’s made, I had to put a large geographical fence between us to curb the fear, but still it pursues me. Even in Australian supermarkets there is usually a ‘British aisle’ for things like Paxo and Tetley and Marmite. I suppose a worst case scenario would be being stuck in a paddock with a horse that had eaten Marmite. Hopefully that will never occur.
And the parallels continue. Both are entirely edible (although I beg to differ on both accounts) and can lend that certain je ne sais quoi to any meal (quite literally). Both can stand and look completely innocent within their natural habitats when actually they are super strong, a bit racy, and have quite a bite. Have you ever wondered what horses are thinking when they stand alone in fields, unmoving? Horse lovers will tell you that they are thinking deep philosophical questions (most frequently the ‘if a tree falls’ thing since they’ve never really got their heads around that one); any self-respecting horse fearer however, will explain to you that they are clearly meditating on their next move. This may or may not be towards you or the marmite jar.
The partnership, in fact, goes back much further than you might imagine. The brewing industry boom in Burton on Trent not only gave the town a new and interesting (not in a good way) whiff, but it also gave the horses something to do. No longer were they standing meditating in fields; now they were pulling carts laden with heavy beer barrels. Of course I’m talking Shire horses here- the absolute giants with the big fringed feet. And where do you suppose Marmite originates from…? All that yeasty goodness post fermentation stage was going spare and as you will no doubt know, a Burtonian will not let anything that has touched a beer go to waste. Thus, Marmite was born, into a town run by giant horses.
Marmite and horses are an integral part of our British Heritage, and even more so in the industrial revolution heartland of the midlands. And in a way I’m proud of that and I love it. Just in a ‘from a distance’ kind of way. I’ll say hello to it through a fence but you won’t get me to touch it. Nay.