There are specific crises that trigger panic attacks in our kitchen. We panic when we run out of wine, for example.
I personally go into meltdown if we're getting low on garlic. A shortage of butter will send us both into swoons of despair.
And I must confess to a previously unacknowledged source of anxiety: a dwindling supply of Mar-mite.
Most people, I realize, can get through a day just fine without Marmite. I can, too.
Until I'm seized by a needy moment and, except for the odd paltry scraping inside that fat little brown jar, I grasp the terrible truth: Our little stash of Marmite is as good as gone.
It's of some comfort to know that you're addicted to something that's good for you. Marmite is made from brewer's yeast, a concentrated, protein-rich gold mine of B vitamins, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin and folic acid.
In fact, according to Adelle Davis (Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit), "more nutrients are more concentrated in yeast than in any other known food."
So, there you go. It's OK to wake up at 4 a.m. with Marmite on my mind. It's OK to demolish a stack of hot-buttered crumpets as long as there's Marmite involved.
And it's fine to dig a little deeper and slap it on a little thicker because the more you eat, the better you'll be. Besides, the best thing about being a Marmite junkie is you don't have to share.
The chances of anyone else dipping into your personal stash of what looks for all the world like shoe polish are slim indeed.
It's a powerful taste. Salty, say some. Rancid or corrosive, insist those who abhor it.
So, yes, it's an acquired taste that few have the fortitude to pursue.
But one thing's for sure: nobody waffles when Mar-mite's on offer. People either love the stuff or hate it with a passion.
The Australian version, Vegemite, which the faint of heart prefer, has sugar in it and, in my opinion, packs less of a taste wallop than the high-octane British product.
Marmite is best on hot buttered toast. It's wonderful in a cheese sandwich. It adds a zesty plus to soups and stews.
Some people go so far as to empty the jar with a swoosh of hot water and drink what's left behind.
Others eat it with bananas. Balding men have been known to spread it on their shiny spots with results that are still to be assessed by the scientific community.
Then there's the jar - plump, slope-shouldered, cute as a button, with a sunny yellow lid and an illustration of a steaming marmite (stew pot) on its winsome, ages-old label.
That label, however, is a controversial one: Vegetarians see stew pot, read beef, think Bovril and run for cover. This is too bad. Marmite is 100 per cent vegetarian.
However, it has proven to be problematic even to its fans. Like any addictive substance, the more you eat, the more you need to eat.
The Marmite novice is into prudent understatement, content with the thinnest, faintest mahogany skim atop a naked cracker or a slice of buttered bread.
But over time, as scar tissue forms and taste buds falter, that yeasty rush becomes harder and harder to sustain.
The Marmite gets trowelled on thicker and thicker until toast with Marmite becomes Marmite with only the skimpiest of underpinnings to legitimize your raging cravings.
Soon you drop the props and eat it straight until it's gone.
And, believe me, the sight of a grown woman, teaspoon in hand, scouring sustenance from the curves of an empty Marmite jar is enough to make you weep.
In 2002, the Marmite brand was bought by Unilever.
At the time, I remember thinking, "That's it. That's the end of a fraught but beautiful relationship."
But, as my recent panic attack will attest, that was not to be. Ideals be damned when it comes to Marmite.
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