Thursday, May 18, 2006

The part of the beer that you didn't drink

One test of your "English-ness" is how you feel about Marmite, a yeast-extract spread similar to the Australians' Vegemite. Those of you familiar with mid-1980s popular music will remember the song by the Australian popsters Men At Work called Land Down Under, which had a verse:
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

I've sampled Vegemite, which is possibly the foulest foodstuff that has ever touched my tastebuds. But I'm here to embrace a culture, so I picked up a jar of Marmite.

Wikipedia's entry on Marmite calls it a "sticky, dark brown paste with a distinctive, powerful taste." Another site, which compares Marmite and Vegemite, notes:
The stuff which leaves the brewery is the scrapings from the bottom of the fermenting tank. Like solidified froth it goes off in open topped barrels to the Marmite factory. Each barrel is filled no more than 1/3 full because if the stuff gets damp it starts frothing like mad as the yeast is reactivated. The horses in the brewery love it and some of the old draymen liked a taste too.

The serving suggestion is to spread toasted bread with butter first, then Marmite thinly on the bread.

It's not bad. It's kind of like a salty, slightly bitter peanut butter. I remember Vegemite as being extremely bitter by comparison.

Perhaps Aussie Sarah and I can do a Marmite-Vegemite exchange and compare the qualities of our adoptive lands' favorite condiments.


Blogger PoppieProng said...

i can abide by neither. i, too, decided to sample the local culture when i was in the UK. tried the Marmite. and didn't like it.

Haggis, on the other hand, is purely thumbs-up for me, as is "pickle," and for sure Nutella. :)

2:02 PM  
Blogger Smitty Werbenmanjensen said...

I have had a haggis (and I know where I can get veggie haggis, too!) and it wasn't as terrible as it sounds, but it's not something I'm dying to eat again.

5:28 PM  
Anonymous The Old Man From Scene 24 said...

Marmite is yummy, Vegemite, on the other hand, is gross.

6:58 PM  
Blogger Smitty Werbenmanjensen said...

I had stomach cramps when I went for a run tonight. Not blaming it on the Marmite--at least, not yet.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Gary Karr said...

Does Men at Work sing about it?

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Kitkat said...

I know it sounds odd, but Marmite on sausages is great.

6:27 PM  
Anonymous pseudonymous in nc said...

Marmite on roasting potatoes creates a sticky, savoury wonder. Trust me on this.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Strangely enough, my husband has developed a taste for Vegemite after having an Aussie prepare it in a similar way to how you described the proper Marmite preparation. I admit I had a bite and it was edible, but don't think I will ever choose to eat a whole slice :D However, there is a spread called Nutella that is quite nice! :D

12:02 PM  
Anonymous fatslug the impetuous said...

I remember the late Alistair Cooke saying the two things he found most intolerable about America were peanut butter and drum majorettes. I wonder where he stood on the Marmite question. (I also wonder if there's a close English equivalent to drum majorettes.)

4:16 PM  
Blogger Smitty Werbenmanjensen said...

Nutella is great. No doubt about it. But you can get that in the States now, can't you?

6:40 PM  
Blogger Middle Kid said...

Yeah. Nutella is sold at the Safeway at the corner. Marmite is not.

7:09 PM  
Blogger Schmutz said...

Even out here in the middle of middle America, I can buy Nutella at my favorite (Apostolic Christian-owned) supermarket. On the other hand, I have not seen (nor will I look for) Marmite. It is probably that, given it's connection to beer, the AC's would not stock it, anyway.

9:42 PM  
Anonymous OHDeaconess said...

Hated vegemite but brought some back. Love veggie haggis but didn't try real haggis. Have you tried any of the "puddings?"

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Kitkat said...

pseudonymous in nc said...
Marmite on roasting potatoes creates a sticky, savoury wonder. Trust me on this.

mmmm...sounds good. Do you put the marmite on before or after roasting?
Recipe please.

8:24 AM  
Blogger blueandgoldguy said...

I wonder how these delightfully sounding spreads would go with a delicacy like as Rocky Mountain Oysters.

3:55 PM  
Blogger blueandgoldguy said...

I wonder how these delightfully sounding spreads would go with a delicacy like Rocky Mountain Oysters.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Zed said...

Personally i vote for vegie ;) more original i guess.

2:48 AM  

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