Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Weird Food Wednesdays: Vegemite

Mmmmmm...looks like nutella right?


It's not chocolate at all.



Whaddya mean you've never heard of it? It's made by Kraft!

Okay, I have to admit that Vegemite hasn't quite caught on here in the U.S.A. But it's a big hit in Australia, where according to the official Kraft Vegemite Website most people can sing the Vegemite jingle,"Happy Little Vegemites", on command (I guess kinda like how most Canadians can hum the original Hockey Night in Canada theme song).

Vegemite is a dark brown super salty spread that tastes a little like concentrated soy sauce with a yeasty beer aftertaste. The consistency is like cheez whiz. I personally like it, but remember that I'm a weird food enthusiast. For most people, it's definitely an acquired taste! Reminds me a bit of Japanese seaweed paste (but not as ocean-y) or Maggi seasoning sauce (if Maggi sauce were to come in a thick paste-like form). A little goes a long way -the thick layer I slathered on my toast this morning probably makes up at least 4 servings. According to the Vegemite Profile chart, today I'm a "slapper" (ie. I slapped on the Vegemite "like a brickie with a trowel"). Usually I'm a "wormer" but I was out of saltine crackers.

Made from brewer's yeast, Vegemite is a rich source of B vitamins and folate. Aussie "ankle biters" grow up eating Vegemite like American kids eat peanut butter. According to wikipedia, Vegemite is also high in glutamic acid, stimulating an umami (5th taste) reaction, which may explain its widespread appeal. In 2006, Australian ex-pats panicked when a story about an FDA ban on Vegemite started circulating (totally false).

I've never tried cooking with Vegemite, but I'm definitely intrigued by a recipe for Vegemite Pizza found on the official Vegemite website.

So where can you get yourself a jar of yeasty brown goodness? After searching high and low in New Jersey with no luck, hubby Kris was successful in Manhattan - huge thanks to our friend Janet for going completely out of her way to get me my Vegemite fix at Myers of Keswick in NYC (can't wait to try their English pork pies and sausage). And thanks to Don , Janet's Aussie contact, who pointed Janet in the right direction.

If you don't live in NYC, check your local import food market, the international food section of a well stocked supermarket, or order it online at several Australian, "Kiwi", or British food websites. Now you too can be a "Happy Little Vegemite"!

A note to all my Brit and Kiwi readers: I enjoy eating Marmite (Vegemite's bitter rival) as much as Vegemite, in fact, I kept a bottle of Marmite in my desk drawer at my old job for several years! I chose to feature Vegemite because I think the name is a bit more recognizable.



Anonymous said...

I've had vegemite on our extended vacation in New Zealand and Australia! But I've never seen it around here. I'll have to talk to someone in my supermarket (wegmans), maybe they can get some for me.

Dave said...

Love Vegemite! Salty, bready, spreadable; what more can you ask for?

My favorite sandwich is Vegemite, avocado, and peanut butter - awesome.

My friend Loren recently wrote about Vegemite's underserved cousin, Marmite.

KennyT said...

I love both Marmite and Vegemite. But Marmite is better, haha.

Teanna said...

Haha that is hysterical, I TOTALLY thought it was Nutella!

Coconut Girl Connie said...

"Buying bread from a man in brussels
He was six foot four and full of muscles
I said, do you speak-a my language?
He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich
And he said, do you come from the land down under?"

Words from a song by "Men at Work", yeah, the old soon as I saw your vegemite post the whole song came back to me.
Music and food, the perfect pairing! Cool post, thanks

Tangled Noodle said...

Hmmmm . . . I don't know about this. Looks chocolate-y but is actually meat-y? My tastebuds might rebel at the visual betrayal! Still, I'm game - the pei dan didn't freak me out so this should be a breeze.

Angie said...

I love both Marmite and Bovril !

Anonymous said...

I love vegamite, and confess to craving it on occassion - I'm a salty kinda girl. I love it on a think slice of toast with fresh veggies - Dave's got the right idea with avocado. I like cucumbers as well.

Passionate Eater said...

I was meaning to try Marmite when I was on honeymoon in England. Perhaps I need to mail-order some Vegemite and Marmite and do a taste test of both! Also, I just gave you an award, so feel free to pick it up at my site!

Chien said...

Toasted bread with vegemite, avocado & roasted chicken ... I'd die happy!

James said...

:) vegemite sandwhich used in the song is Aussie slang we use for being punched! Read it again with the context has a whole new meaning hehe

baest said...

also, Promite, has a bit of a gherkin flavour to it. Big fan.

Anonymous said...

Hello :)
I'm from/in Australia and I must say you really do trowel on the vegemite! (brave move!) I remember just barely scraping a serve on over melted butter on toast which seemed to be just right for me :) Although when Americans took over the production, the taste actually changed, weirdly enough, and the ingredients also (I can't recall exactly, but I don't buy it anymore) I now just buy a different (healthier) version called VegeSpread.. which is also much more palatable in my opinion.. p.s. with butter on crackers is also my fave!