Vegemite vs MightyMite vs my taste buds

by Alissa

In the olden days in Vancouver, when we lived in the lower level of a house built into a hillside and I worked in a windowless office at SFU, I started using a SAD lamp and looking for ways to feel a little less like hibernating through my life. To shore up my adrenal function, I researched food sources of B vitamins and came across the yeast extract spread Vegemite. I bought a jar, and I wanted to like it. I spread it very thinly on toast, as widely recommended. It tasted so mouth-puckeringly strong, most of the jar of tar-like saltiness remained uneaten two years later when we left for Toronto. After that I pretty much forgot that it existed, which is a good thing, or I might not have been so willing to move here.

On our first full tour of the grocery store, we arrived at the spread aisle. There is an almost American quantity of peanut butter here, honey, jam, jelly, the usual.  This is not a precise measurement, but I’m wiling to hazard a guess that there is more shelf space given to Vegemite, its variants and competitors here than to Australian literature.

In the name of giving Australia and its spreads a fair go, I picked up a jar of MightyMite. MightyMite is a somewhat milder, gluten free, all-Australian version of Vegemite (which is owned by Kraft, which is not exactly Australian). One of the three kangaroos on the MightyMight jar even sports an Australian flag cape.

I suspect part of the extreme cheeriness of the Australian disposition is due in part to the health boost of the Mites and ample vitamin D from sun exposure. I have it on good authority that Real Australians eat a spoonful of Vegemite when they’re feeling under the weather and carry on with the activities of the day. I’m not quite ready to bottle Australia and sell it, but I am willing to start experimenting:

MightyMite in savory oatmeal. A little different, but okay.

MightyMite as an umami boost to soup broth. Tasty/undetectable.

MightyMite straight off the spoon. Maybe still a bit strong. Just maybe.

Last week I was feeling Vancouverish. A few rainy days. Fatigue from the constant vigilance for traffic, the overstimulation of everything we encounter being new, the ordinary spills of age two. Sleep has been hard here, and my dreams filled with losses and moving logistics and uncontrollable insect life. From one restless spider infested dream, I actually woke up craving a little yeast extract.

Yeast extract spread on toast. Yes. Somehow this makes sense to me now.

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