For fans of all-round legend Nigella Lawson, you’ll have noted that she’s quite partial to a bit of rye bread. Toasted, in fact, as a quick breakfast.
I wholly agree with this sentiment, and enjoy her regular Instagram shots of said bread with lashings of fresh avocado.
But then a few weeks ago, this happened…
Wait, what? Avocado and VEGEMITE?
I was curious. I thought on it for days, trying to work out if the two flavours were appealing to me. In the end, I gave in to curiosity and tweeted her to see if I could switch out Australia Vegemite for British Marmite.
No response. Hmm.
SO. While Boudicca is usually all about smaller British producers, I couldn’t resist the temptation to do a taste test…
Most of you (I’d imagine) are familiar with one or both of these spreads. Both ‘yeast extracts’, which quite frankly sound awful, are a dark, salty, vitamin b-filled spread that often gets added to water to make a quick stock, stews or casseroles to ‘beef’ them up, and most famously, to all kinds of baked goods to make a delicious breakfast.
The product that was to become Marmite was invented in the late 19th century when German scientist Justus von Liebig discovered that brewer’s yeast could be concentrated, bottled and eaten. MMMMMM. In 1902 the Marmite Food Extract Company was formed in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, England, and is still there to this day.
Vegemite on the other hand was created in 1919, following the disruption of British Marmite imports after World War I. It was named after a nationwide competition was created, and the girls who came up with the eventual winner (Hilda and Laurel Armstrong) were called ‘The Vegemite Girls’ for the rest of their lives. Yikes.
I’ve never actually tried Vegemite, even though I was practically raised on Marmite. Vegemite is *way* thicker and more matte, it’s far darker and more like a true paste, while the British version is shinier & glossy, lighter brown, and looks less rich.
A quick trip to The Grocer on Elgin (which is eye-wateringly expensive, but sells the best bread in Notting Hill) resulted in this amazing sour dough loaf. It was £2.95 (sorry Mum), but really does taste like heaven.
On the rye however, with the avocado and a squeeze of lime – Vegemite takes the crown. While on bread, the Marmite is almost a bit more mellow, and naturally tastes better, on the avocado, it sticks out like a sore thumb.
Am I convert? Kind of. The Vegemite adds a lovely dimension to a quick breakfast dish, and packs in a bunch of folic acid to boot. It might sound a little strange – but it’s actually really delicious.
I count that as UK 1, Australia 1 🇬🇧🇳🇿