The Third Leader: A king's breakfast

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The Independent Online

It is breakfast, the air is filled with the aroma of Arabica, the loudest sound is that of the pages of this newspaper turning and you are about to achieve that most tasteful of trinities, toast (not too crunchy, obviously), butter, and marmalade. What could be better?

Well, as anyone who has been reading our letters page recently could tell you: Marmite. If you are Mr Melvyn Williams, of Swansea, you might, even now, be adding a layer of peanut butter as well. Good morning, Mr Williams! Yum!

This is not a newspaper of slavish adherence to tradition. We embrace, include; we welcome Marmiters as much as Marmaladers. But tell me - and I know you will if you can - has there ever been a Marmite made with whisky, champagne and gold leaf? That is the compliment being paid to the queen of complements by Duerr's to mark the company's 125th anniversary: a jar worth £5,000.

And, pace Mr Williams, Mr Baldwin of Sittingbourne, Mr Kelly of Whitstable, and other valued correspondents, it's worth it. Marmalade originated in Ancient Greece. Scott took it to the Antarctic, Hillary to Everest. In its understated amenability (thick cut, thin cut, various fruits) it is the preserve of the civilised.

Again, I ask you, has Marmite been mixed with Mancunian river water to create a perfume, L'eau de Marmalade, another Duerr's wheeze, and one I might regret publicising if the challenge is taken up? And while we're in the North-west, you should know of another tribute to another culinary icon: from the Fence Gate Inn, near Burnley, at £8,195, the world's most expensive pie.

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