Look – there on that toast! It’s an oil spill! It’s battery acid! No!
2 years, 2 months, and 10 days after arriving in Australia, I finally broke down and tried Vegemite. I had resisted trying what is basically Australia’s national food for so long because of all of the horrible things I’d heard about it – from everybody who isn’t Australian. Aussies, on the other hand, love the stuff and will defend its honour no matter what the cost. They’ll tell you it’s like the Aussie version of peanut butter or Nutella. And maybe based on popularity it is. But I can say with 100% confidence that Vegemite is not peanut butter. It’s not Nutella. It’s not even close to either. In fact, I’d say that a comparison between peanut butter and Vegemite is about as appropriate as a comparison between pizza and sewage.
So, let’s start with the basics: what is Vegemite? Vegemite is a spread made from yeast extract. And by “yeast extract”, I mean the by-products of the brewing process. So, basically, when brewers make beer, all the nasty shit at the bottom of the vat at the end gets scraped up and becomes Vegemite.
I’m not even shitting you. See – read the ingredients:
Then, they take the leftover beer gunk and add a bunch of vitamins and minerals to it, and then pour in a few dump trucks full of salt to mask the taste. So, in all fairness, Vegemite is one of the world’s best sources of B vitamins. It’s also one of the world’s worst smelling foods. Step 1: Open the jar. Step 2: Take a whiff.
OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT SMELL???
Heinous really. I’ve never smelled anything like it before. Now, the smell is somewhat reminiscent of a brewery – that stale, quasi-feet odor that makes you gag anywhere else other than a brewery. But with Vegemite, it’s slightly off. It’s sort of like some evil former Soviet republic invaded and hid their nuclear waste in the brewery, and the two smells fused together to create a newer, more foul odor. I imagine that smell would be similar to Vegemite.
Now, I told a few people about my plan to try Vegemite, and they all said the same thing: eat as little as possible. For first timers, you’re supposed to get a piece of bread, add enough butter to make pre-diabetes Paula Deen proud, and then add the thinnest layer of Vegemite imaginable. That goes in direct contradiction to the serving suggestion on the side of the Vegemite jar. That looks like a lot of Vegemite to me:
Step 3: Have a backup plan. Now, I prepared a whole spread for an afternoon tea party – complete with fancy breads, crackers, cheddar, feta, labnah, pita chips, hummus, nuts, honey, tea, bubbles, and of course, Vegemite. If I was going to suffer through this, I was going to ensure I had plenty of other foods to eat to assist in ridding my mouth of the flavour. Step 4: Invite friends for moral support. I was joined by Paul and Charlotte:
And Bojan and Adam:
Step 5: Proceed with the preparation of the bread. I put on an overly zealous amount of butter and then tried to go for a thin layer of the beer gunk – I mean Vegemite. See this: the Vegemite really does look like an oil spill:
Step 6: Take a bite.
Step 7: Make a face like you’ve just witnessed some kinky sex act performed by a group of senior citizens.
Step 8: Question your decision to take a bite.
Ever since I arrived in Australia, I’ve been told that Vegemite tastes like a long list of different, gross things: battery acid, bugs, aluminum, sadness, etc. To me, any flavour in there was masked by the ungodly amount of salt in the small amount of Vegemite on my bread. I can definitely see where people would say battery acid or aluminum, but the thing that came to my mind first was really salty water. You know when you’re at the beach and you go for a swim and a wave catches you unaware and you end up with a mouth full of nasty saltwater with traces of whale piss? That was what Vegemite reminded me of. It wasn’t the world’s most horrible experience, but it was definitely unpleasant, uncomfortable, and it took a few seconds to recover from. And I had a headache later that night and I can only guess it was due to the unusually high amount of salt in my body.
Seriously, the level of salt in this thing should classify it as semi-edible. Though I’ve never tried it, I imagine a salt lick would be similar to Vegemite. And you know why I’ve never tried a salt lick?
Because I’m not a fucking horse.
The Vegemite section should be moved to the pet food aisle.