Jack Monroe: “There’s so much bullshit when it comes to food”

Food writer and activist Jack Monroe lifts the lids on food snobbery, mental health – and teaches The Pool how to nuke a microwave mac 'n' cheese in a mug

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Friends know that my Marmite obsession is almost as out of control as my peanut-butter obsession. In leaner times, I would substitute Marmite, which was well out of my budget range, with a paste made from a crumbled value-range beef stock cube, mixed with boiling water and allowed to cool. Smeared on to toast with butter, it delivered that tongue-warming tingle and salty kick I used to get from my yeast-extract friend. These days, my cupboard has a jar of Marmite in it for toast and snacks, and today it went in here, too. If you’re a hater, not a lover, just leave it out – or, of course, you could always cook your pasta in a stock made from a crumbled cube and we’ll call it quits . . .


  • 75g macaroni or other short pasta
  • 2 tsp butter
  • ½ tsp Marmite or other yeast extract
  • 20g hard strong cheese (you might want to use more, but I like hard and strong and scant myself)
  1. Tip the pasta into a mug and cover with 250ml cold water (you can also crumble in 1/2 beef stock cube – don’t knock it till you’ve tried it). Cover the mug with cling film and pierce it several times, or balance a small saucer on top – make sure neither mug nor saucer have any metal on, please, the fire service are busy enough.
  2. Stand the mug in a bowl or jug – you’ll see why in a sec. Cook on full power for two minutes, then remove the mug. It’s usual for water to bubble up over the sides and drench the bottom of your microwave, so to save cleaning it up and topping it up again, which will slow your cooking time down, just tip the water back into the mug.
  3. Give it all a good stir and leave to stand for a minute. Repeat this step twice more, until your pasta is soft and swollen. You may need to add a splash more water here or there, which is fine – not all microwaves, nor pasta, are created equal.
  4. Add the butter, stir in the Marmite and grate over the cheese. Cook for 1 more minute on full power, stir well and serve.


For a portable version, mix together oil, instead of butter, with the Marmite and finely grated hard cheese and pop the paste into a small container. Separately measure a portion of the pasta and take both containers with you to wherever you’re off to that has a microwave. Now all you need is to cook the pasta as instructed, stir in the paste, and voilà.

You can buy Jack Monroe's new book, Cooking On A Bootstrap here. 

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