We went on vacation to Australia a few years ago — just a few days into the trip we stopped at a grocery store for supplies and found a jar of Vegemite. I had read about it when preparing for the trip and me and my mom and the kids were excited to try it. I grabbed a spoon, dug it into the jar, and put it in my mouth. And after I finished coughing and sputtering and wiping my watery eyes, I did what every good tourist does and tried to get the rest of the family to do the same thing — telling them it was great and they’d love it.
Vegemite is what many would say is an acquired taste. It’s a strong tasting and very salty paste that is made from left-over brewer’s yeast mixed with some vegetable and spice additives. You most definitely don’t eat it by the spoonful! A few weeks after my first try, we went on a camping trip in the Outback with a few Australian families and one of them ordered Vegemite on toast. After following their lead, I learned the most common way of eating Vegemite — lightly smeared on a piece of toast with some butter. Much much better!
Now that I’m living in NZ, Vegemite is pretty common and I eat it somewhat regularly. If you go to a bed and breakfast, odds are that they will serve toast and Vegemite and butter with the morning meal.
Marmite is similar to Vegemite — the original version of Marmite was created in Britain but there’s a NZ version that is only distributed here and in Australia and some of the Pacific Islands. Marmite is also common in NZ and since it is made here in the country, there’s a tendency to want to like it better than Vegemite. But alas, most of the people I’ve talked to prefer Vegemite even though it is an Aussie product :-). I’d guess though that many Kiwi households (like mine) have both in the cabinet?
I just found the most awesome commercial for Marmite — too funny: