As I roamed the isles of World Market the other day, I happened to glance up and spot the iconic logo of the Vegemite jar. A couple dollars later it was in my bag and I was on my way home. It has been about 10 years since I was last acquainted with vegemite, and if memory served me right I was not looking forward to trying it again. But time has a way of changing things and I was ready to go. Like most Americans I had originally tried it because of the Men at Work song “Down Under”. I now return to it, however, as a culinary adventurer seeking the truth. Hit the jump if you are a truth seeker.
If you made it this far then let me tell you something straight off. DO NOT eat Vegemite straight. I don’t care if you’re Australian, Kiwi or British; vegemite is just too intense a flavor to eat on its own. It reminds me of heavily salted yeasty beer foam, and for good reason. Vegemite is made from the leftovers of beer fermentation. Basically the waste from beer production is made hypertonic (salt added) causing the yeast cells to shrivel and self destruct. After cooking this solution and adding additional flavorings, one is left with a thick dark brown paste. To give an idea of how attractive vegemite is, show a jar to your favorite mechanic and see if he mistakes it for bearing grease. It’s true. Vegemite looks more like industrial lubricant than food stuffs. Ok but perhaps it’s better paired with other ingredients.
We at Flavourgasmic are going to try several classic and even some new Vegemite recipes to determine if there are any redeeming qualities. According to our Aussie friends Vegemite is best on toast with butter so let’s start there. All items are being served on toasted bread.
Toast with Vegemite and Butter
Brian:Not bad, I used a decent unsalted churned butter and the rich creamy taste of the butter matched well with the strong savory taste of the vegemite.
Katt: Salty, very savory. A little like beef bouillon.
Toast with Vegemite, Butter and Cheese (Cheddar)
Brian:The classic vegemite sandwich, and for good reason. The sharp almost smoky flavor of the cheddar works very well with the strong savory notes of the vegemite.
Katt:Makes the cheddar seem overly salty, however it cuts the taste of the vegemite.
Toast with Vegemite and Cream Cheese (Katt’s idea)
Brian:MMM cream cheese, I personally think the vegemite gets lost behind the cream cheese, however just enough comes through to know it’s there providing a nice compliment to the cream cheese.
Katt:That’s really good. Brings out the richness of the cream cheese, nice oniony flavor.
Toast with Vegemite, Butter, Sliced Tomato
Brian:Very good! The sweetness and slight acidity of the tomato match just about perfectly with the yeasty vegemite. I think this may be my favorite.
Katt:The taste of the vegemite is lost behind the tomato. The vegemite is not a bad substitute for mayonnaise in this application.
Toast with Vegemite, Butter and Avocado
Brian:What can I say, avocado makes just about anything taste good and vegemite is no exception. Adding additional fat by way of the avocado further subdues the strength of the vegemite.
Katt: Not a big fan. I think she was mad at me for making her try it, it didn’t agree with her palate.
Brian:For me the clear winner was the tomato and vegemite sandwich. The combination of the sweet and tart tomato with the heavy savory taste of the vegemite reminded me of a good steak and tomato combination. Vegemite at times takes on a taste very similar to beef bouillon. That being said I would happily eat any of the combinations above, just remember to use vegemite sparingly. Being extremely high in vitamin B you really can not go wrong handing someone a vegemite sandwich.
Katt: Clear winner would be a vegemite, cream cheese and tomato sandwich. Due to vitamin B content she could see herself having a sandwich for breakfast.