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Thread: The BOVRIL rant...     submit to reddit submit to twitter

  1. #1

    The BOVRIL rant...

    The Demon Drink".

    That's a phrase I used to think referred to alcohol. Until, that is, I finally conquered personal demons of my own and faced up to the atrocity in a jar that is Bovril.

    Like so many of the world's greatest horrors, the creation of Bovril is all down to the French. Following a proper drubbing by the then-just-getting-warmed-up Germans in the war of 1870-1871, French military authorities insisted that the defeat was solely down to the fact that the French army didn't have enough beef to eat, and not - as the rest of the world firmly believed - because said French army was shit.

    In preparation for the rematch, the French government ordered one million tins of beef from a Scotsman named John Johnston who, after signing the contract, immediately realised there was no fucking way he could possibly get his hands on one million tins of beef.

    Rather than admit defeat, however, the wily Scot set to work boiling up cattle and mashing it through a sieve, and within a matter of months he'd come up with "Johnston's Fluid Beef". After having it pointed out to him that foodstuffs should under no circumstances carry names designed to make consumers vomit, he changed the name to Bovril.

    Now, I'm no historian, but I'm assuming the French government weren't best pleased to open one of Johnston's tins of beef and find this:

    I mean, okay, tinned beef ain't never going to be fillet steak but no matter how low your expectations that shit's still going to take you by surprise. You're expecting lumps of meat, you get cow flavoured jam. It's probably as a direct result of opening that first tin that the French started eating frogs and snails and horses. Anything's got to be better than tucking into that gloop. Somewhere on the outskirts of Paris there's a landfill with 999,999 tins of 100 year old Bovril buried in it just waiting for some unsuspecting Frenchie to come wandering by with a metal detector...

    The big question, of course, is why is the stuff still around today? You want a cow? I can get you a cow. I can get you a cow by 2 o'clock this afternoon. It's not difficult. They're everywhere. And we have the much more appealing and nutritionally valuable solid beef lining our supermarket shelves these days - there's really no need for the "fluid" variety any more.

    And yet still around it most certainly is. I've seen this stuff in shops and heard rumours of its contents since I was about ten years old, and it's always filled me with revulsion and dread.

    Over the years the advertising for Bovril has featured - among other things - football fans knocking the stuff back on the terraces, and moderately attractive middle-aged women sipping on it in front of a roaring log fire, but no matter how clever and well thought out the promo spot, it would always end with me screaming "YOU'RE DRINKING COWS!!" at the television.

    So why does it still exist? Someone must be buying it. Lots of someones for it to still be financially viable to liquidize a thousand strong herd of cattle every year and pour it into small jars. If people are buying it, it can't possibly be as bad as I imagine, surely? That said, even if people weren't buying it it still couldn't be as bad as I imagine. I've never tasted it, as I've said, but the Theoretical Bovril of my nightmares tastes exactly like charred animal fat and octopus ink. Dipped in dogshit.

    Perhaps I've been missing out. Perhaps Bovril is nectar from the Gods themselves. You deserve to know. So, in arguably the most selfless act I've ever carried out to date I am about to drink an entire mug of steaming hot Bovril. Not only that, I'll be drinking it in order to wash down the whole slice of toast with a thick layer of the shit spread on top I am also about to consume. I do this for you, so you don't have to. God be with me.

    And there it is. There's nothing on the instructions that actually says you can spread it on toast, but then I didn't get where I am today by not following instructions that don't appear on jars. Besides, I'm sure I've seen it spread on toast somewhere. Or was that Marmite? Fuck knows.

    I'd like to say it looks inoffensive enough, but I'd be lying. Look at it! I'm genuinely shaking here. I haven't been this scared since the "Nuclear War: What To Do When the Bombs Start to Fall" educational video the school showed my class when I was nine. Took my Dad fucking weeks to get the whitewash off the double glazing.

    For a moment I'm not sure I can go through with it. I'm fighting sixteen years of ingrained terror here, and the terror's winning hands down. Plus what you don't appreciate from where you are is the concentrated beefy stench. I can only equate opening a jar of Bovril to Han Solo cutting open his fallen Tauntaun with Luke's lightsaber in The Empire Strikes Back. And I thought Bovril smelled bad on the outside!

    But no, I've already written several hundred words of this article and taken two pictures. I can't back out now, it would be against my "minimal effort at all times" ethos.

    Fighting back the nausea, I pick up a slice and take a bite...



    No, no, no.

    That isn't right. Part of me was almost hoping for an "I've been wrong all along!" happy ending to this article, but it isn't to be. Theoretical Bovril tastes better than the real life equivalent. The idea of it just being a gelatinous version of beef was bad enough, but it's not even anything like beef, unless the only experience you have ever had of eating beef is licking a bull's eyeball. I wish I could find words to describe what it tastes like, but my mind is too busy shutting down my digestive system to come up with an analogy.

    I'm desperate for a drink to get rid of the flavour, but there's only one beverage on the menu. One dark brown, foreboding, essence of Tauntaun beverage...

    Even William Shatner can't make me want to drink this stuff, and William Shatner makes me want to do a lot of crazy shit. Still, I'm in this 'til the bitter end now, and it can't possibly be as bad as the toast. Hands trembling, I raise Captain Kirk to my lips and swallow his hot sticky liquid down in one.

    On the one hand yes, it's better than the toast. On the other, however, there's no escaping the fact I've just downed an entire mug of gravy. To be honest I've tasted marginally worse things in my time, but then a quick glance into the mug reveals why...

    Half the shit's still stuck to the bottom. In fact, more than half. I'd go as far as to say all the shit's still stuck to the bottom. At most I'd say I must've gotten a one tenth dose of the stuff, but even at one tenth strength it was more than powerful enough thank you very much. If you think I'm tackling that gunk stuck at the bottom you've another thing coming. I did what I came to do and I'll do no more.

    So, what's the final verdict on Bovril? In non-drink form it tastes, on reflection, exactly like I've always thought bone marrow would taste, only runnier. As for the drink, well that tastes like gravy made from bone marrow. Even in its weak, 10% potency form it's still in my top three least favourite tastes of all time, just behind Ice Cream flavour Monster Munch.

    I'm sure there are people out there who really like it, but then I'm sure there are people out there who dress as vikings and bathe in the fucking stuff, so that alone doesn't lend it any credibility. There's probably a whole undercurrent of adult sites on the internet devoted entirely to people dressed as Nordic warriors sitting in baths of beef extract, in fact. You'll be amazed what you can find on the web.

    If vaguely beefy, predominantly bone marrowy drinks do it for you, then chances are you might like Bovril. I for one would sooner lick my own testicles than so much as look at it again, but then again, I'd sooner lick my own testicles than do a lot of things.

    A great big steaming cup of zero out of ten then for Bovril, the bovine based beverage, and even less for the toast topping, even though I'm becoming increasingly convinced you're only supposed to use it as a drink.

    If you read all that I applaud you. If you understood it, I fucking love you...

  2. #2

    I gave up after the first paragraph

  3. #3
    Black Belt
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    BG Level
    FFXI Server

    Quote Originally Posted by Orfeo
    I gave up after the first paragraph
    first paragraph? try the 3rd word.

  4. #4
    Melee Summoner
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    BG Level

    he is talking about tinned meat and how much it sucks balls

  5. #5

    didn't even try to read it

  6. #6

    Hmmmm, interesting piece of info (as well as a time waster while at work).
    Always wondered what Bovril was, and never actively sought to find out.

    Now I'm glad I didn't, and that i read this only after the internet already corrupted me beyond redemption so as to soften the blow.

    Good read.

  7. #7

    Quote Originally Posted by Drinhkinn
    Hmmmm, interesting piece of info (as well as a time waster while at work).
    Always wondered what Bovril was, and never actively sought to find out.

    Now I'm glad I didn't, and that i read this only after the internet already corrupted me beyond redemption so as to soften the blow.

    Good read.
    Can I have your babies???

  8. #8

    Depends if SE will eventualy allow marriage between mithras.

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