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Vegemite, Mate!

“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.”  Men At Work – Down Under

Vegemite, an Australian cultural food phenomenon, is basically concentrated yeast extract made from beer. Yes, beer. Actually it is made from used brewers’ yeast extract, which is a by-product of beer making. It is also made from celery and onion extracts.

I recall the first time I tried it.  The flavor flavour: was very salty. Bitter. The spreadable concoction has a texture which is thick, grainy and is dark brown in color colour.

I immediately tasted that it has a malty, soy saucey-like flavor flavour…

Do Aussies really love it?

Usually, yes.

Do I like it?

With an acquired taste, I find that I will like it eventually. Hugh Jackman got Oprah to try it and she liked it!  I already expected it to be different, kind of like eating the Dutch drop candies for the first time…

History:

Have you ever heard of Marmite?  Vegemite is not quite as intense as Marmite from Great Britain, and it is not as sweet as Marmite from New Zealand.  Now owned by American corporation Kraft Foods Inc, Dr. Cyril P. Callister created Vegemite in 1922 for Fred Walker Company, when the company gave him the task of developing a Marmite-like spread from the yeast that breweries were throwing out. It took a while before Vegemite caught on with the Aussies. For two years, a jar was given with every product the company sold, and by the late 1940s the country was in love with the stuff — It was even in Australian Army rations during World War II.

Today: Each year more than 22 million jars are produced. Callister’s recipe has remained unchanged, and in Australia Vegemite outsells Marmite and other spreads like it.

Uses:

Vegemite is best used as a bread spread, an Aussie favorite favourite on breakfast toast. They first toast a slice of bread and they butter the toast, and then they top it off with a very thin layer of Vegemite. Australians are practically weaned on it from the first day they can eat it, but it’s definitely an acquired taste.

Other ways to eat it:

Now that I’ve tried it, I can’t imagine it on anything but toast with butter, but some also like it on their sandwich with cheese and often veggies as well.   A Vegemite sandwich {mentioned in the Men At Work song “Down Under”} is typically two slices of buttered bread, Vegemite & cheese, but you can also add other ingredients like tomato and avocado slices.

· Kosher {click here} — Since 2010, they’ve made kosher Vegemite.
· Cheesybite {click here} — Vegemite + cream cheese.  I haven’t tried it yet.
· My First Vegemite {click here} — Wean your children into the addiction.
· Recipes {click here} — Not sure I’ll attempt to make any yet…

Soldier Cup

Soldier Cup Kit

· ‘Vegemite Soldiers’

Done in the UK as well {called ‘Marmite Soldiers’}, also called ‘Dippy Eggs,’ are one other common way to eat Vegemite. Cut toasted bread, spread with butter and Vegemite, in small pieces and dip them in a soft-boiled egg. They’re more commonly called ‘Vegemite Soldiers’ because to the toast slices resemble soldiers standing in formation. For the bigger fans, you can even buy a special soldier egg cup and toast cutter here or here.

Where to buy Vegemite:

In Australia, it is found in every supermarket in a variety of sizes, but worldwide Vegemite can be found in some specialty and gourmet stores {often a small jar would be seen on the same aisle as peanut butter in Dutch supermarkets} and is also available through online mail order {like here}. Note: Promite is similar to Vegemite, if Vegemite is not available.

Official Vegemite website: here.  Read more about Vegemite: here.

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