A Skeptic Tries is a series examining our food resistances and what happens when we try them anyway. Next up, contributing writer Kate McAuley reluctantly gives Vegemite Pizza a go.
Here I am, casually thumbing through Instagram on an unseasonably warm October morning, when a video featuring Giovanni Fabiano, an Italian-born, Brooklyn-based pizza chef, pops up in my feed. Normally, my under-caffeinated brain would have kept on scrolling, but something odd catches my eye: this sweet-faced Don of the Dough is sporting a corduroy cap emblazoned with none other than the distinctive red and yellow logo of Australia’s beloved Vegemite. My beloved Vegemite.
With mild horror, I, an Aussie living in New York City, watch on as Giovanni adds a generous squirt of my favorite sandwich spread onto a classic pie at the restaurant he owns, Rosa’s Pizza, in Williamsburg. He then showers it with shredded mozzarella and slides it into a Marsal oven. According to the chef, an official Vegemite ambassador, we Aussies have been eating Vegemite all wrong. “You put it on toast, I make pizza with it,” he proclaims in the promo video. “It tastes like Australia.” Alright, mate, I’ll be the judge of that.
For the uninitiated, Vegemite is a thick, dark brown, supremely salty spread that is made from a heady mix of leftover brewer’s yeast and a few other additions, including malt, folate, and riboflavin. Developed in Australia in 1922, it was our direct answer to the United Kingdom’s popular and older, but far inferior Marmite. As a kid, it was a staple in my family’s pantry because of its high levels of B vitamins (that’s 1980s wellness for you) and all-around deliciousness. The latter, however, is a fact that I’m yet to convince my U.S. friends of, no matter what Giovanni says.