It’s lucky we don’t live in Denmark – UPDATED

Marmite, that vitamin B rich British institution, either loved or reviled is now illegal banned from sale in Denmark.

What next? Banning the sale of “Are You Being Served” or “Dad’s Army” videos? A gagging order stopping British ex-pats in Copenhagen talking about the weather back home in Scunthorpe? All Austin Mini’s in the country must be scrapped immediately?

Joking aside, this raises a question for us. We’ll be visiting the UK over the summer and naturally we’ll stock up on 500g jars of Marmite while we are there. Just enough to keep us going for a year.

But we will be driving via Denmark. So, on the return journey, will we need to declare our Marmite as we cross the border? Will it be confiscated like other banned and controlled substances?

Well it looks like a storm in a tea-cup and nothing exciting will happen if we drive through Jutland with a couple of kilos of Marmite hidden away in a bag.

Here is the boring response from the FVST. I quote:

“Neither Marmite nor Vegemite and similar products have been banned by the Danish Food And Veterinary Administration. However, fortified foods with added vitamins, minerals or other substances can not be marketed in Denmark unless approved by Danish food authorities.According to the Danish Order on food additives, addition of vitamins, minerals and other substances need to be approved by the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration before the product can be marketed in Denmark.

The Danish Food and Veterinary Administration has not received an application for marketing in Denmark of Marmite or similar products with added vitamins or minerals.

Other fortified food products have been approved by Danish food authorities and are being marketed in Denmark.

For further informations:
Deputy Head of Nutrition Division
Jens Therkel Jensen, 72** ****
Read more on: ”

Implicit in this statement is that whilst you can no longer sell or buy Marmite in Denmark, personal stashes of user quantities of Marmite will not cause any laws to be broken.

Marmite spliff anyone?

A postcard

It is always nice to get a postcard in your ‘postkassa’, especially when the Royal Mail have done their best to make sure it gets delivered.

Even more so, when they make sure they let you know that they have done their best.

The postcard was posted on the 4th of March 2011, and came all the way from Chester in the UK. I could have cycled from Gol to Chester and back, in the time it took to get here. I guess they must be using cycle-couriers for the alternative service.

The written word: Part 2

Last week a familiar blue envelope appeared in our post box. It was a set of tax return forms for tax year 2010 for me to fill in. As we have emigrated from the Netherlands we can no longer do our tax returns on our computers using that handy program that the Belastingdienst creates each year. Oh no, that would be too simple.

This year we will have to do it on paper, and two sets of paper, one for me and one for Damae. The tax return is called an M-aangifte and strikes terror into the hearts of emigrating former-residents of the Netherlands. The forms come with a ninety-eight page¬† ‘toelichting’ in Dutch (which we can read of course). However, on the front is says in friendly letters “This explanation is also available in English on the internet. Look at”. So I looked, as naturally it would make life a lot easier trying to digest those written words in English rather than Dutch. After twenty minutes I realised that I couldn’t find it.

I phoned the Belastingdienst in Holland, and after the obligatory ten minute wait in the queue (it must have been a quiet day) I got a gentleman on the line who informed me that there was indeed no English version of the ‘toelichting’. He also explained that the English text on the front of the Dutch version was a ‘drukfout’ or misprint to you and me.

That’s some misprint if you ask me – “Oh I meant to print nothing on that part of the paper but accidently slotted the following words in moveable type into the printing press: ‘This explanation is also available in English on the internet. Look at’. Sorry guv, I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again”. Yep, that is one amazing misprint.

I digress, as I often do.

Although we have until late June 2011 to submit the completed forms, it looks like during quiet evenings in the next couple of months, our combined abilities in comprehending written Dutch will be taxed to the limit.


Taxed to the lim…………… I’ll get my coat.


How to make quick cook polenta in a thermos flask

Subject: Polenta in thermos
From: Ninki Williams

On 23 February 2011 23:30, Ninki Williams wrote:

Hello Stan,Can I please have instructions and quantities of how to make it this way…?

Ninki xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Instructions, see below.

Disclaimer: No warranty is given or implied, nor should it be inferred and no responsibility is accepted by the author for any damage/loss of any sort arising from attempts to follow this recipe. There is no way to make fool-proof instructions as fools continually improve their skills with supernatural ease. When fools are involved there is no such thing as an unambiguous sentence. Technical writers please take note.

1) Take one 500ml stainless steel wide mouth thermos flask (or another size or type if that takes your fancy but it might not work if you use a different type of flask. It might be worth checking step 12 before you go any further)

2) Fill about a quarter to one third full with quick cook polenta (must be quick cook).

3) Add boiling water to (max) within a centimetre of the bottom of the lid of the thermos (that is the bottom of the lid when the lid is screwed in place. You will probably have to guess exactly where that is)

4) Stir the polenta-water mix so that no solid clumps of polenta remain in the flask. Unless of course you like clumps of solid un-rehydrated polenta-meal in your cooked polenta, in which case you can skip this step.

5) Screw the lid closed. If it doesn’t want to screw closed then you have probably added too much polenta and/or water. If this is the case remove some of the contents from the flask and try screwing the lid on again. If you have a burning sensation in one or more of your fingers, then remove your finger(s) from inside the flask and you will find that you should be able to screw the lid on. Unless of course you still have too much water/polenta mix in the flask (see above).

6) Shake gently twice (or as many times as you feel like)

7) Lay the thermos flask on its side, on the worktop/kitchen table/garage floor/grass next to the tent making sure it cannot roll in any direction. Note, if you glue the thermos flask down to stop it rolling then you might have problems carrying out some of the subsequent steps. Mostly ones from Step 10) onwards.

8) Wait at least ten minutes (you can wait longer if you wish. However if you wait 24 hours of more, the polenta will probably start decaying and will in any case be cold)

9) Get out a plate and put it next to the thermos flask. The plate can be any colour or size and can be made of any material. It helps if the plate is bigger than the quantity of polenta you have just made and is made of a material that is both moisture and heat resistant. It might be a good idea to use a clean plate rather than a dirty one. It is best not to use the plate you put under the car to catch drips of oil from the sump.

10) Pick up the thermos flask and carefully unscrew the lid so that you can see the polenta inside the flask. Along one side, all the way to the bottom of the flask you will see a void (unless of course you have overfilled the thermos flask in which case you are on your own from here on).

11) If you have a void in your flask, turn the thermos flask on its side so that the void is below the polenta and the mouth of the flask is over the plate.

12) Shake/hit the flask gently so that the polenta comes free from the flask and floops onto the plate (if you don’t know what ‘floops’ means then you shouldn’t be trying to cook anything). If you used a glass thermos flask then this might not work in quite the same way. In this case you should treat these instructions as ‘alpha’ quality. The cooked polenta should come out in one piece and be shaped a little like a sausage.

13) You can either eat the polenta then and there, or wait for it to cool and put it in the fridge. If you are going to eat in now, then jump to step 18)

14) If putting in the fridge then make sure you cover it so that the polenta does not dry out. Unless you like dried out bits on the outside of your polenta in which case skip this step.

15) If you have chosen to put your polenta in the fridge, keep an eye on it. If you forget about it for a couple of weeks it will probably become inedible and uneatable. If you like inedible or uneatable polenta then skip this step.

16) To use the polenta sausage from the fridge, take it out of the fridge, and using a knife that is reasonably sharp (obviously ‘reasonably’ in this context will vary depending on if you are a butcher who uses knives to cut through gristle and bone or a vegan who only ever uses knives to spread smooth peanut butter on pre-sliced organic sour-dough bread) and slice the polenta into one centimetre thick slices. (If you don’t know what a centimetre is, then where on earth have you been living since 1791?).

17) Take a frying pan, large enough to hold all the slices of polenta when they are lying on their big flat sides, pour in liberal amounts of cold pressed olive oil (or Aldi ‘vegetable oil’ or ‘lard’ if you are a mingy skinflint), and place the polenta slices in the pan on their big flat sides rather than their skinny edges. Fry the polenta until golden brown on both the big flat sides (or a lighter or darker colour depending on how hungry you are and/or your attention span and/or if you are a mingy skinflint who is trying to save on the gas/electric/other fuel bill).

18) If you are capable of anything like logical thought, then you will have already made/bought a tomato sauce or fried some sliced onions and mushrooms or some fried bacon bits to pour/sprinkle over your nicely fried polenta slices/fresh dollop of polenta. If not then you have some rather boring polenta to eat – life is a bummer sometimes. But, look on the bright side. At least it is a gluten free meal.

19) Don’t forget to pour water into the thermos flask as soon as you have removed the polenta. Dried cooked polenta is one of the best adhesives known to man and it is almost impossible to remove from any surface without extensive soaking in water. Dried cooked polenta was used as the main test material when DuPont were developing the Teflon non-stick pan coating (this might not be true as Wikipedia makes no mention of this use of polenta nor any mention of polenta on the Teflon page).