“What is this?” I had to ask when I saw the small Marmite tube on our counter. I now live in New Zealand, so of course I do know what Marmite is. Some call it an iconic New Zealand treat, others a nutritious and delicious spread, while the less creative folks just call it a yeast extract.
Not me, I hate Marmite! (So my question should have been, what is that Marmite tube doing on my counter?)
I was first introduced to this Kiwi icon about a week after we arrived in New Zealand. Another American expat took me to the grocery store to share with me her wisdom, acquired from living here for a while and being married to a Kiwi. She simplified my transition:
“Heinz is now Watties, ketchup is now tomato sauce, cookies are now biscuits, biscuits are now scones, white American table sugar is now caster sugar, and most importantly . . . This is Marmite:
And every Kiwi kitchen has to have a jar.”
Then there was the Marmite. In an effort to adapt to our new culture and to share in some of its delicacy, we dove right in. That very shopping day I made toast for the girls, spread thinly with our “soon to be new favorite food,” Marmite. As the spread looks quite a bit like a Nutella or chocolate spread, the girls and I enthusiastically took bites.
We won’t make that mistake again! I am fairly sure one of our girls asked if I was trying to poison them, while the other wanted to know if I didn’t like them anymore.
To date there are only three things I have discovered which are worse than New Zealand’s Marmite. They would be:
- The even saltier Bristish version of Marmite.
- The similar, although even more disgusting Australian copy called Vegemite,
- Any of the fried insects or random animal parts we saw on Wangfujing Street in Beijing, China.
Well, that Marmite tube is still there, sitting on the edge of our kitchen counter, taunting me. I realize it looks huge in the image above , but really it’s quite tiny:
Lucky for me, I have an artist in the family, and one who also hates Brussels Spouts. We finally have a perfect use for that Marmite tube:
Image ©Melissa Albom 2013. All rights reserved.
When it comes to Marmite, or any thing like it, I guess I am aligned with former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said in 2010 (while in Australia): “I’ve never understood why you would ruin a perfectly good slice of bread with Vegemite.”
Now that I have admitted this, I hope I will be allowed to stay in New Zealand.