Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bovril, the breakfast spread from the Ox.

In New Zealand, they claim Vegemite is their iconic breakfast spread. Over the ditch, the big continent loves it as well.

Vegemite, invented in 1922 by a food technologist, Cyril Percy Callister, using waste yeast from a Melbourne brewery, is regarded as a national food in Australia and New Zealand, although it has long been owned by the US giant Kraft.It has a pungent, dark brown paste which difficult to fathom for outsiders.

When I was growing up in Sarawak, we had marmite. and occasionally bovril which we call NGOU YOK CHIUMP, translated as the cow's gravy, the breakfast  spread from the Ox. It is good on toast, plain bread, with our rice gruel or rice porridge.

Sam likes a different bovril. It is available only in Singapore. During the Mad Cow disease, Singapore stopped importing bovril. But because Singaporean love bovril so much, the company made chicken bovril. Isn't it a joke? Chicken bovril, when bovril comes from the word bovine which is cow?

The chicken bovril is yellow, and Sam got hooked on it. As it is available only in Singapore, this is a "please bring over for me " by Sam.

Recently a friend J. in Kuala Lumpur asked if he could bring over anything, I told the water engineer to tell him to bring chicken bovril for Sam. Unfortunately, the water engineer did not emphasize that it has to be chicken bovril, not beef bovril. The chicken bovril has a yellow lid.

J. scoured the whole of KL, he couldn't find chicken bovril. He bought a big jar of vegetarian bovril which looks and tastes like vegemite or marmite. Sam doesn't like it, neither does the water engineer. So guess who is left eating it? Any way, it is almost comfort food, food of my youth.

It's the same for Sam, chicken bovril is his connection to Singapore. When the water engineer goes to Singapore on assignment, must remind D to get him half a dozen jars of it for him.

***This is what I had for breakfast. It's the first time I tried the vegetarian bovril. Verdict, looks the same as vegemite, taste the same, only runnier. May be it is the heat of the summer that is causing it.***

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