Australia offers many, many wonderful things (Ayers Rock), beings (People), animals (’roos and camels), beauties (war memorials), so it’s hard to find something to really and truly dislike about visiting Australia.  But, I know something, an icon—uniquely Australian—and I will share it with you, as a warning, perhaps.

It’s Vegemite.  One shudders even writing that word.  What could be so powerful?  Is it something to wear? (No.)  Is it something to write home about? (Yes!)  Is it something to eat? (Not if you’re smart.)  The one thing it’s good for: it has lots of Vit. B.  Truth-tellers say it is “an acquired taste,” but I have learned that is code-word for something that tastes awful!   My mother didn’t raise an idiot; it even smells terrible.

Vegemite, a bread or cracker spread, is never touted as a reason to put Australia on your travel dream list.  It can also be used in gravies, soups, and stew—ruining them for me.  Not only does it taste bad, it even smells worse, unless they’ve fixed that odor. Warning: Remember now, the Aussies are known for playing pranks on visitors, so their first temptation is to get a greenhorn to try Vegemite.  Then they sit back and slap their thighs and chuckle at said visitor’s reaction.

One local comment on Vegemite: it tastes like fermented yeast that has died and puked, which while being truthful, is a bit out of order.  If you’ve tried marmite, vegemite is far worse.

Everything else on the dinner table (breakfast table, lunch table) tastes great. (Well, I’m mentally not prepared to eat Bambi, but not everyone is so fussy.)  However, I draw the line—in big and black letters—in tasting the stuff in that oh-so-innocent-looking little jar.  Vegemite may be Australians’ secret weapon; don’t share it with the U.S.