Bovril – Where’s The Beef ?

I’ve been watching a bit too much Ray Mears lately. It’s given me this terrible urge to live in the woods and cook a freshly killed rabbit over a campfire. Living in harmony with nature is very appealing at times, although pooping in a hole in the ground when it’s pouring with rain does tarnish the idea.

Ray Mears considers Bovril to be the essential survival drink (along with hot chocolate I was pleased to hear). Well, I haven’t thought about Bovril since I last ate a scrumptious packet of Bovril flavoured crisps as a kid. My parents used to serve up Bovril with a piece of crusty bread during the cold British winters. If we didn’t have any Bovril they would serve up an OXO cube dissolved in a mug of hot water instead.

So with my hunter gatherer instincts awoken I set off on a Ray Mearsy foraging expedition to see if could track down the essential black elixir. To be honest I wasn’t even sure if Bovril had migrated to the Australian shores. I certainly don’t remember the bush tucker man raving about it. But scouring the aisle of Woolworths I found a small jar hiding between some other beefy imposters. At $5.29 it seemed expensive, but I simply had to have some.

If the price wasn’t shock enough, when I got it home and made a closer inspection I noticed in disbelief the tiny words “suitable for vegetarians” on the front of the jar. How on earth could the beefy wonder drink be suitable for vegetarians? On examining the ingredients I was staggered to discover that Bovril, the most famous beefy drink, has lost its beef.  For some reason Bovril has become a Marmite/Vegemite yeasty extract drink instead – and a pricey one at that. Does Ray Mears know about this? Instead of drinking the essence of a day out hunting Aberdeen Angus I am instead drinking the essence of day out picking button mushrooms. Is this more political correctness gone mad. Turning a man’s drink into a unisex one?

So let’s cut to the chase. What does it taste like? It’s been so long I can barely remember what the original tasted like. It had a good beefy tang I’m sure. But would I be able to tell the difference between it and its new age sibling?

Actually… it tastes damn good and after a few sips my memory of the flavour came rushing back. I’d love to do a side by side comparison with the real thing so see what difference there is. I’m sure there is one.

I was expecting it to taste like Vegemite, which I suppose in a way it does. But Bovril works as a drink where as Vegemite doesn’t. You see I once tried making a Vegemite hot drink in the Bovril tradition. Teaspoon of extract in a mug of hot water. It tasted awful.

So if you enjoy Vegemite and like a good strong beefy taste go give Bovril a try. Take it camping. Spread on your toast! (actually I’ve not tried that). Rub on your face as hunting camouflage. Polish your boots with it. Grease your Landrover with it. It has a 101 uses for anyone with an irresistible urge to live in the wild. Just ask Ray Mears.