Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bare cupboards and a tube of Vegemite staring at me.

I haven't been to the grocery in a while. It's so bad that I'm out of the staples. No olive oil. No pepper. I do have some kosher salt in a box, but I have to put some in my hand first, lest I pour a salt blanket. I've got some dry black beans that I just started soaking, and a few strange canned items left behind by previous roommates (look for the Hormel Chili with Beans to appear on eBay soon).

The only other item in my cupboard: Vegemite.

On our European tour last fall, Peter and I acquired an Australian travel companion. You other world travelers know that acquiring an Australian travel companion is not odd at all. I think many of them just live in those hostels and look for poor lost Americans to look after. It's like some Mormon missionary thing, except their mission is not about JC. Theirs is two-fold: 1) to help us drive on the correct side of the road and remind us when we're drifting over and 2) to promote Vegemite. In fact, it just might be Kraft who sponsors these Aussie's trips abroad. I certainly don't understand how they can afford to just spend a year skating about Europe.

I remember distinctly having a proper English Breakfast one morning in Manchester. I was sitting there enjoying my mushrooms (the veggie substitute for the ham-like bacon they serve), when Wayne (pronounced two syllables: "WAH-aine") pulled a little yellow tube out of his pocket. He then spread a brown paste over his toast and ... ATE IT!!! Peter and I were perplexed, but WAH-aine continued with a straight face. I must give him credit, as he extolled the virtues of Kraft's little brown paste, and ate it without making whiskey-face.

Several months ago, WAH-aine shipped me two tubes of Vegemite all the way from Perth, Australia. I haven't had the nerve or the empty-kitchen enough to try it.

And so this morning as I am up early, with only toast and Vegemite in the cupboard, I give you a real-life, no-stunt-doubles, real-time experiment:

I am now putting a single slice of wheat toast in the toaster. Wow, my toaster oven is more complicated than I remember. Okay, I've somehow lost the tube of Vegemite. Must locate it. Aha! It was hiding behind the Cream of Mushrooms and the Mysterious Can o' Chili. The toaster smells like it might catch on fire, so I remove the toast and unplug it.

Toast is finished. The yellow tube of Vegemiate stares at me, unopened. I should probably prepare a glass of water. Okay, I'm opening the tube. What's this? A little aluminum seal, to prove that my Vegemite has not been tainted. Eww! Whiskey-face before I even spread it on the toast. But here goes ... I am brave and adventurous.

Wow, it's harder than you might think to squeeze the Vegemite out of the tube. But a single column adorns my toast, and I am about to spread it around thinly. Okay. Deep breaths for the first bite.

Okay, not bad. Really salty. I'm rolling it over my palate to check for earthy undertones. Uh-oh. What's this flavor creeping in? I do not know this flavor. Oh, this is gross. Really? They eat this every day? Oh no ... here it comes. Must. Find. Water. Whiskey-face!!!!!!!!

Okay, I was mostly-kidding when I started this blog, but seriously, I need to go brush my teeth now. WAH-aine, how do you do this?? Is it like iocane powder? Do you just build up an immunity and use it as a weapon against poor lost foreign travelers? Hmmm ... come to think of it, Iocane powder comes from Australia too...

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