Sunday, January 15, 2006

Vegemite not emigrating

From Agence France-Presse
Saturday, January 14, 2006

Kraft assures Australians that Vegemite is staying put

Global food giant Kraft moved to assure Australians yesterday that production of the famous Vegemite savoury spread would not be shifted overseas...

Kraft this week announced it would move its biscuit manufacturing business from Melbourne to China...The announcement had sparked fears that Kraft's Vegemite would meet a similar fate.

First produced in 1922, the thick brown paste with a strong, salty flavour is regarded as an acquired taste and is accorded the same status in the Australian national psyche as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the United States.

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The Observer says:

Vegemite is a yeast extract, rich in natural glutamates that stimulate the "umami" or savory taste receptors on the tongue. Since it isn't synthetic like MSG, it doesn't contain the indigestible left-handed isomer that is thought to cause "Chinese restaurant syndrome" and may contribute to glaucoma in people who regularly eat foods containing MSG.

Personally, I find Vegemite to be too bland and prefer the original British product, Marmite, which is over 100 years old. They are both yeast extracts, but Vegemite is flavoured with malt, whereas Marmite is flavoured with carrots and onions. A little goes a long way: a teaspoon is enough to impart a rich, meaty flavour to a pot of homemade soup.

Marmite is made all around the world. Most Marmite sold in North America comes from the UK through the "official" wholesaler. But some Chinese groceries import Marmite from Hong Kong, and I get mine from the South African Sausage Company which imports it from Durban.

Although most Americans and many Canadians claim to dislike Marmite, they buy lots of ready-made snacks, soups, and meat products in which "yeast extract" is a prominent ingredient. Ironically, some of our popular brands of sliced roast beef are flavoured with "yeast extract" to make them taste meaty!

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