WELL that’s it then.
Our relationship with the US has just gone down the gurgler. And a good thing, too, if you ask me. They’ve banned Vegemite.
I mean, do you really want to be standing shoulder to shoulder in the war against terrorism with people who are searching your luggage not for bombs, but for jars of Vegemite?
Do you really want your biggest trading partner to be the one country in the entire world where it’s an offence to place a jar of Vegemite on a supermarket shelf?
Okay, okay… let’s not be hysterical about this. They must have a reason. I mean, a rational, mature and prudent nation wouldn’t come up with something as flagrantly stupid as this without a reason, would they?
Officially the reason is that Vegemite contains folate, which is part of the B vitamin complex found in brewer’s yeast. Folate’s supposed to be really good for you. So good for you that in America they add it artificially to all their bread and flour products. But you can’t actually take it into the country because well, because they say so, and they’re the leading world power, see.
I have a different theory. I reckon they’re just jealous. I mean, if your contribution to the world of interesting food products was peanut butter, tomato ketchup and cornflakes, you’d be jealous of almost anything, wouldn’t you?
So they’ve shut the door on Vegemite, which was a waste of time anyway, because the only people in America who would eat Vegemite are the Australians. It’s a Well Known Fact that Americans make the sign of the cross when they’re exposed to Vegemite.
They hate the stuff. Have they tasted it? No! They will tell you the taste is irrelevant — the smell hits you when you take the lid off the jar, and that’s enough. They are prepared to believe we grease axles with it, or bait dingoes. They are not prepared to swallow the line that we put it in our mouths. Anything spicier than a milk pudding was bound to fall foul of American sensibilities.
Indeed, I have a sneaky feeling they class Vegemite as a weapon of mass destruction.
Today Iraq; tomorrow Australia. No wonder John Howard was so keen to back the Americans over the Iraq war. It was a stroke of political genius in which he deflected attention away from our gradual importation to the US of sufficient Vegemite to make the entire population gag over their breakfast.
What, I’d like to know is, what are they going to do about Popeye!
Popeye got his strength from spinach, which has the same amount of folate per cup as Vegemite does per serve. Clearly an un-American activity. I vote we adopt him, and trade the cans of spinach for jars of Vegemite. His lovable intolerance of rules, idiots and tyrants will place him up there with Australian icons, like Steve Irwin and Russell Crowe.
Meanwhile, however, what are we going to do if we travel to the US? What are we going to spread on our toast?
Trust me, you won’t want American toast – even with its compulsorily added folate. There’s more flavour in the plastic wrappers.
My advice is – just don’t go there. You won’t miss much. The very real possibility of being murdered, perhaps, or being insulted by taxi drivers, but the food’s nothing to write home about.
Got to England instead. There, at least, they have Marmite. Not quite up to the vegemite standard, which is stronger, but that’s no surprise. So are Australians.