Saturday, January 30th, 2010
6:20 pm - Where's the Beef?  
Back in the mid-sixties, my father flew for Aer Lingus on the New York to Shannon route. Shannon was the first duty-free airport, and my father took advantage of this by bringing us home various Irish and British foodstuffs, like Cadbury's chocolate (long before it became available here) and this weird rose hip syrup that was supposedly high in vitamin C*.

* I hated the stuff, myself. Every time one of us had a cold, a big spoonful got shoved in our mouth, and I always had to suppress a gag reflex. It was like when one of the Little Rascals was given a spoonful of castor oil. Somehow the subject came up during Christmas dinner, and I discovered that everyone else in my family loved the stuff, even to the point of occasionally sneaking a spoonful. Crazy, all of them.

One of the other things he used to bring home were these big ol' jars of Bovril, which was a thick, dark beef extract that looked and flowed a lot like molasses. It was basically concentrated cow. My mother used it for gravies and soups and anything else that needed beefiness, and we loved the stuff. Of course, when my father stopped flying to Ireland, the supply became restricted to tiny, ridiculously priced jars at gourmet shops, so that ended that.

I do a lot of my shopping at Dave's Market, a small local chain that has a somewhat higher ratio of esoteric products than, say, Stop and Shop, and the other day I noticed one of those tiny jars of Bovril. So I bought one. Tonight I decided to make beef stew, so it was the perfect time to crack it open.

I put a good dollop of the stuff into the Dutch oven with the rest of the ingredients, and then tried to puzzle out whether it now had to be refrigerated or not. Now I don't think we did back in the day, but I wanted to make sure. Lots of things have a "refrigerate after opening" warning on them now that didn't used to (ketchup, for example). The first problem is that being a tiny jar, the type face is, like, 3 pt. Even with my reading glasses I could barely make out the type. I actually had to get a magnifying glass. Ah, store in a cool dark place. Perfect. Then I looked at the front of the jar.

Suitable for vegetarians

Say what? How can concentrated cow possibly be suitable for vegetarians? I pulled out my trusty magnifying glass again to peruse the list of ingredients. There are lots of them, but none of them contain the word beef in them. Or cow. Or any other kind of dead animal. Huh.

Wikipedia clued me in
. During the dark days of the mad cow scare, the manufacturer replaced the beef extract with yeast extract to "allow vegetarians to enjoy the rich taste" which is apparently code for "the European Union won't let us sell it otherwise." People complained (think New Coke), so once the ban on beef exports was lifted, they apparently reintroduced classic Bovril as "Beef Bovril." Dave's, unfortunately, carries plain old (New) Bovril. $3.49 for 125 grams of yeasty goodness. Sigh.

It smells about the same as I remember it did. I will see how it tastes in about an hour or so.
 
 
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burrellburrell on January 30th, 2010 - 11:38 pm
sigh. made me laugh, but sigh.

That said, I am a fan of Marmite/Vegemite and used to swear by them back when I made a lot of vegetarian soups and stews.
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DXMachinadxmachina on January 31st, 2010 - 01:44 am
It's a shame I don't have my old Kombi anymore.

The stew turned out pretty good.
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