V is for Vegemite
When I was a kid, Vegemite was a staple in my diet as it was for most kids of my generation in Australia.
Vegemite is a yeast extract with vegetable and spice additives which has been around since the 1920s. It is a black paste that we Aussies like to spread on toast, crackers and bread. It has a salty taste rather like a strong boullion. It is highly nutritious, being rich in B group vitamins. Mothers start their babies on Vegemite early by spreading it on teething rusks or dissolving a little in water.
As kids we ate Vegemite every day. My brother hardly ate anything else, even on Christmas Day. He liked his Vegemite sandwiches and would turn down all the wonderful Christmas food in favour of “a Vegie sandwich”.
My cousin and I created our own delicacy. We would spread butter and Vegemite on crackers, and set the crackers on the back steps until the ants crawled on to them. When the ants became stuck in the Vegemite, we ate the crackers. Yes, I know it sounds disgusting now, but at the time it was fantastic…and there were never any ill effects.
The secret with Vegemite is to spread it lightly. The saltiness of the Vegemite then blends nicely with the butter, cheese or whatever. Most visitors to Australia, intent on savouring this iconic product make the mistake of slathering it onto the toast or cracker so thickly that, when they bite into it, the salt causes their throats to close up and tears to well in their eyes.
There is an ongoing argument about whether Vegemite is better than its UK/NZ competitor Marmite or vice versa. My vote goes to Vegemite. I think Marmite is slightly sweeter.
I will always be a Vegemite kid.
I believe I can still remember the words to the jingle.
“We’re happy little Vegemites,
As bright as bright can be.
We all enjoy our Vegemite,
For breakfast, lunch and tea.
Our mummies say we’re growing stronger,
Every single week,
Because we love our Vegemite. We all adore our Vegemite.
It puts a rose in every cheek.”
Yup! Definitely a Vegemite kid.