Words by Maggie Zhou Art by Hayley Sinnatt
Apart from kangaroos, barbecues and casual racism, Vegemite is one of the defining features of this little hunk of island we call Australia.
Stupid challenges and trivial dares also proudly form the foundations of our community. When you chuck both together, you get this really dumb idea where you happily agree to having Vegemite with breakfast, lunch and dinner for an entire week.
This challenge is not for the faint hearted. No, it is for the those emboldened by spirit, those who proudly treasure Vegemite with all their being. Screw that 3/4 butter and 1/4 Vegemite shit, I’m a Vegemite purist, baby; I spread that stuff on thick. I eagerly messaged my boyfriend about this journey I was about to embark on. He replied, “We are going on a break that week.”
In the lead up to this momentous occasion, I took all the necessary steps and procedures to ensure that I would win (a competition against myself with no prize). Highlighters and multi-coloured pens in hand, I scrolled through the depths of taste.com, enthusiastically jotting down every recipe which featured the dark spread. My sister, who works at Bakers Delight, asked me what bread I wanted her to bring back home. “Cheesymite scrolls,” I whispered. “Lots of them.”
For the inaugural meal, I thought I’d start off simple: Vegemite on toast. I followed the well-known advice that you’re supposed to slather it in butter first and then apply a bit of Vegemite. But boy, did something go wrong during this process which should be fail-proof for the average human. It was painstakingly dry. Drier than the Sahara desert; drier than my dad’s humour. “Why did I sign up for this?” I mournfully asked myself as I choked on another bite of brittle bread. The rest of the day was somewhat less eventful. Lunch was accompanied by a piece of white bread and Vegemite, while dinner included some Vegemite marinated tofu which was pretty tasty, if not a bit too salty (something you can’t really escape with Vegemite, can you).
Second day in and I’m feeling as confident as a nasally white guy belting out Wonderwall on his acoustic guitar. Smashing out my breakfast with a piece of bread smothered in Vegemite (definitely not toasted), I then effortlessly moved onto my first Cheesymite scroll for the week. That night I went out to a mate’s housewarming and my Vegemite intake consisted of, well, beer. That counts right? Yeast and what not…
Feeling particularly Melbourne, I whipped up a breakfast which probably would’ve gone for $19 at a inner-city cafe. Vegemite, spinach, scrambled eggs, mushroom and feta on toast made for an ace combination. To continue the carb-fest, I had yet another slice of bread and Vegemite for lunch. That night however, I undertook my biggest challenge yet: Vegemite chocolate brownies. And they were damn delicious. Having that extra kick of being a wee bit salty, they were some bloody good, gooey brownies.
I woke up feeling good. The kind of good that can only come from one source: B vitamins. Screw my iron tablets that help combat my anaemia, Vegemite is what the doctor should prescribe. Boasting that it is “essential for brain function and energy release” and “helps to fight fatigue,” it will probably take off as the next big superfood, just you wait. Highlights of today included trying out the new Vegemite flavoured Bagel Crisps with a whole lot of guac and spreading Vegemite all over a Four’n Twenty meat pie. Yep, that’s about as Aussie as it gets.
Like the hypochondriac I self-diagnosed myself as, I began to worry about the copious amounts of this brown substance I was consuming. Googling, “is too much Vegemite bad for you”, a dubious woman named Jan who dubbed herself an “experienced eater” informed me that it’s “possibly dangerous”. I was positively shaken. Nonetheless, I powered through and smeared Vegemite on my pancakes. It was gross. But as they say, an artist struggles for their art. Following the tofu technique for dinner, I marinated some chicken pieces with Vegemite and teriyaki sauce. This worked wonders and good ol’ Vegemite pulled through as a worthy substitute for soy sauce.
DAY SIX & SEVEN
A whirlwind of never-ending Cheesymite scrolls, bagel crisps and meat pies formed the last two days. I would wake up dreading the inevitable salty taste that never really left my mouth, nor my nightmares. My mum found me in the kitchen staring at a piece of bread covered in Vegemite, the knife still in my hand. She asked me if I was okay.
Like a soldier returning home from war, I welcomed the end of this week with open arms. This torture device or experiment, whatever you want to call it, taught me a lot. A) I eat a lot of bread. B) There is such a thing as too much Vegemite. Maybe we should all listen to Jan and consume this spread in appropriate doses unlike the fucking psycho I am.