Most Americans not of Commonwealth origin rarely utter this sentence: “Damn, I have way too much Vegemite and Marmite laying around. I had better figure out a good way to eat some of it.”
About half the time, my daily meal is a frozen pizza. I buy whatever’s cheapest that isn’t too lousy, which means no more of Albertson’s house brand. A big shout-out, though, to Albertson’s for getting rid of the self-checkout and hiring actual new employees for new express lanes.
Then I doctor it up.
My typical doctoring involves adding smoked oysters or anchovies, extra pepperoni, a lot of grated cheese, and lately a sprinkling of feta. The culinary challenge with doctoring frozen pizza is to avoid putting on so much cheese that the heat can’t penetrate through the top. Since I eat pizza with a fork (and no, I don’t care if that’s a party foul, communistic, or the moral equivalent of a terror attack on Naples), the whole thing is going on a very large plate. Lately I’ve taken to sprinkling some of the grated cheese on the plate, drizzling it with a little olive oil (because you should always think of heart health), and slipping it into the microwave long enough to melt. Also, since I keep the house at 64º F during the winter, that means the plate doesn’t suck all the heat out of the pizza when it comes out.
So how was I going to get Vegemite onto the pizza? It’s not that easy. Vegemite is thick stuff with the consistency of creamy peanut butter, very salty with an odd odor (but not a revolting one, like cooked broccoli). It goes best with cheese and bread, or in ramen noodles. It is easy to overdo, which creates an overly salty effect. Also, one doesn’t want a food contamination situation, so one must find a solid part of the pizza from which no pieces will come loose and stick to the knife. I finally settled upon smearing it on the pepperoni slices, which were frozen solid to the pizza. By not getting too aggressive with it, I was able to avoid touching the pepperoni with the knife, and I laid a smear of Vegemite on each pepperoni piece. Including the extra ones I added to cover voids where the Il Cipo pizza manufacturer neglected to put a pepperoni.
The flavor surprised me. Vegemite doesn’t melt at 400º F for eighteen minutes (Marmite melts with a quick shot in the microwave). It may get milder. Whatever the reason, the saltiness wasn’t overwhelming. A delicious flavor to combine with the cheese, pepperoni and crust. If you put it on cheese pizza, the salty taste would probably be more in evidence, but that again would raise the question of where to put it. Highly recommended.
I’m told that a pizza chain did a stuffed crust with Vegemite in the cheese roll around the edge for Australia Day. Sounds good to me. However, I am not holding my breath waiting for the chain to test market that in the United States.