Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

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Marmite versus Natto
As part of my KonMari tidying binge, I divided my food cupboard into Japanese (top shelf) and the rest (bottom shelf):

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In that spirit, I decided to set natto against Marmite...

If you're interested in how to prepare natto, there are some pictures of the process below the cut:



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inside each carton is a sachet of sauce, and another of karashi (Japanese mustard), with the fermented soy beans themselves underneath:

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Next, stir it all with chopsticks until it becomes sticky and hazardous to passing flies:

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I have to tell you that both were delicious in their way, but that Marmite won, by dint of being so... Marmitey. That said, I've now reached the stage where my hypnogogic phantasies are usually conducted in (very bad) Japanese, so it may be that by this time next year the answer will be different.

I have to tell you that both were delicious in their way, but that Marmite won, by dint of being so... Marmitey.

What are the qualities of natto and Marmite that led you to pair them in this fashion? I am not sure I have ever had either.

They both have the reputation of being things you either love or hate. In the UK, this aspect of Marmite has been taken up by the manufacturers, and forms the basis of much of their advertising:



One of the "Very British Problems" lists circulating a while ago summed it up well: "My girlfriend claims to be 'neither here nor there' on Marmite. Now I can't trust anything she says or does."

As for natto, it has a similarly divisive reputation in Japan.

No natto for me. It's a texture thing more than a flavour thing, though. I also have trouble with the dense stickiness of those rice cakes that go in red bean soup and that really gooey root vegetable (the one that grates into full sticky splendour). Considering how much I love Japanese food, it bugs me that I react so strongly to these three things.

Natto I don't mind, but I was defeated by the gooey root vegetable (nagaimo?) when it was served up in full frog's-eggs glory for breakfast at a ryokan (luckily it was accompanied by many more toothsome delights). On the other hand, I wish I could find it here so as to give the right consistency to my attempts at okonomiyaki batter.

Yes, its texture works in cooking. My Japanese friends found an Australian way of getting okonomiyaki (I know, for they made it), but for the life of me I can't remember it! If I do, I'll tell you.

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