Buying Typically English Food in Australia

One of the ‘joys’ of Mrs Bob having a broken leg is that I have to go to the supermarket to do the shopping. In the last few weeks I have probably been into Coles more times than I have in the previous five or six years.

I am, of course, given a shopping list to work from and I like to have a quick look through it before I embark on my journey to the store.

On the list the other day was Marmite but, after clarification, I was told it’s not called Marmite here, it’s called…

Our MateIsn’t that great? Marmite Our Mate. That’s better.

I was also told to specifically buy Our Mate and not to buy the Australian equivalent which as you know is…

vegemiteApparently, English people with a very discerning palate can tell the difference between the two, but I’m going to stay out of this debate, I’m not keen on either.

I must make it clear though that Our Mate is not exactly the same as Marmite, there is a very slight difference in the taste. For that reason genuine Marmite brought in to this country from the UK is like a tiny little pot of gold in these parts among aficionados of this spread; it has even been used here to win friends and influence people.


My search for Our Mate

So there I was, in the store, wandering from aisle to aisle, looking for Our Mate. Be fair, it’s a very small jar. Having little luck, I telephoned Mrs Bob from my mobile.

“Where is it?”

The answer surprised me a little, I was told it was in the ‘English Section’. The ‘English Section’?

Now I was looking for something much bigger, something with an exciting name; the ‘English Section‘.

Aisles and aisles later, I was still looking for the ‘English Section’. At that point I had to do something no bloke ever wants to do. I had to ask for directions.

In a supermarket!

A kindly lady walked me directly to the ‘English Section’…

the english sectionThis is it? This is the ‘English Section’?

With a small jar of Our Mate thrown into my shopping basket, I decided to have a good look around this ‘English Section’.

Here’s what I thought of it…

  • Lyle’s Golden Syrup – I wouldn’t be who I am today if it were not for Lyle’s Golden Syrup; how else would I have been able to eat my porridge and grow up to be big and strong?
  • PG Tips – Is there any other English tea worth mentioning?
  • Coleman’s Mustard – Original English of course. It’s tasty!
  • Yorkie Bars – I actually remember a time before Yorkie Bars; life was grey and dull and then all of a sudden Yorkie Bars hit the shops and there was colour!
  • Yorkshire Puddings – How can you have Sunday roast without them?
  • Paxo Stuffing – Ditto.
  • Weetabix – (Another name change apparently, called Whole Wheat Biscuits here); Weetabix (and sugar) rescued me from porridge and syrup!

As for the rest of it, I couldn’t care less, but I have to say for a very small ‘English Section’ it brought back some quite fond memories.

And on that note, it’s time for an ad break..

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{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Marlene September 17, 2017, 1:06 pm |

    I’m glad you pointed out that Our Mate isn’t exactly the same as Marmite. I thought my tastebuds must have aged along with the rest of me! I always found Marmite could be spread thicker without getting that bitter aftertaste (something you get with Vegemite with even the thinnest layer). Our Mate does have the consistency and piquant sharpness of Marmite but spread too thickly and you end up with the bitterness of Vegemite. Good to know someone else noticed the difference!

    • BobinOz September 18, 2017, 7:43 pm |

      Well, I am glad I have been able to confirm that your taste buds are not deteriorating, but thanks must go to Mrs Bob and my daughter Elizabeth, they are the ones that know all about the different tastes of Marmite, Our Mate and Vegemite.

      I’d love to take the credit, but I can’t, it’s down to them. I’m more of a beans on toast man.

      • Warwick November 4, 2017, 9:29 pm |

        Just spent 2 weeks in my wife’s home town. Nottingham. Up jitty down twitchle and even around ginnel. Found our marmite and some of the relos gave us some too.
        We should be stocked up until our next visit.haha.
        One muct keep one’s wife happy.

        • BobinOz November 6, 2017, 7:11 pm |

          Well, it didn’t take you long to cotton on to the local lingo did it? For those who don’t know, and that’s probably quite a few, these are all local colloquialisms in the Midlands area for paths or alleyways. Even I have to admit, being a southerner, that I had to check Google for the info.

          Google knows everything.

          Glad to hear you are all stocked up on Marmite, a happy wife is a, well, happy wife I suppose.

  • Rachel January 27, 2015, 3:21 pm |

    A vital highlight of the english section that you’ve missed is the mint sauce. I have yet to find a comparable australian mint sauce to the one shown in your picture of the english section.

    • BobinOz January 27, 2015, 5:42 pm |

      I was never into mint sauce, but yes, I suspect that is another very English product. It’s clearly popular enough here for Coles to stock it though.

      • Ozimandias November 5, 2017, 8:42 pm |

        Mint sauce is not something to be proud of. It exists for no good reason but like the mint itself, a pest, it won’t go. For a gardener, it is like the common blackberry. Worse, culinary thoughts about mint in British cuisine are not really more forthcoming over the 19th century view. Maybe mont helped overcome a stink of rancid lamb back then but nowadays, mint sauce makes as much sense as it did thirty years ago in my youth.

        As for our mate and vegemite, both are inferior to a good buttered toast with promite. Even that could be easily bettered, but for competition.

        • BobinOz November 6, 2017, 7:32 pm |

          Promite, I don’t think my Marmite loving family have tried that one yet, I’ll ask them to give it a go.

          As for mint sauce, I just checked Cole’s online, they now stock five different varieties. Clearly still very popular, whether the gardeners like it or not.

          • Ozimandias November 6, 2017, 10:02 pm |

            I’m a convert. It is sweeter with more umami. Not something that can be said out loud in Australia, except online anonymously.

            Happy to be put back in my box about mint sauce (and probably should). Grew up with it in Oz, the shop bought stuff a staple in the 1980s with Sunday “meat two veg”. Probably judging it on that experience is unjust. Put it this way, a bottle could last for longer than virtually any other condiment. A true loaves and fishes story. Does anyone ever get through a bottle? It seemed ours lasted a generation.

            It may be that truly homegrown British mint sauce is a wonder. Worcestershire sauce, for example, is usually regarded as the Holbrooks brand in Oz or if Kiwi, then Lea and Perrins. But, I found one in Tasmania by “Johnnos” and it much more alive, bursting with flavour. So yummy, you can sip a teaspoon of it easily. A pity they don’t seem to sell it on the mainland. Anytime I’m down there I pick up a bottle. If you know an English favourite, I’d definitely try 🙂

            For Colmans, I read it had to be the powdered stuff. So I bought some in an English food store and remain a bit unsure about it, though it probably is good mixed into a baste for a roast. I read Shakespeare had a thing for Tewkesbury mustard and this excitement I was hoping to get in Colman’s but it wasn’t to be. It’s about as good as Keen’s which isn’t bad. Masterfoods hot english is the only English mass produced mustard I like but has virtually radioactive levels of heat.

            • BobinOz November 7, 2017, 8:50 pm |

              If I had mince sauce in my cupboard, it wouldn’t just last generation, it would last a lifetime. As for umami, if you’d have said that word to me a year ago, I wouldn’t have had a clue what you were on about. For some reason though, I recently came across it and Googled it, frankly I was shocked. Who knew?

              Lea and Perrins is easily our favourite Worcestershire sauce, so I can’t point you towards anything better. And I also heard that Coleman’s powdered mustard is better, but I prefer the convenience of a paste. I do like the Masterfoods hot english as well though, but as you say, it can give you a bit of a bite back.

  • Pauhla November 28, 2013, 11:00 pm |

    Our English section (in France) in the ‘Super U’ is almost exactly the same. Except with something called ‘fluff’. Answers on a postcard please.

    • BobinOz November 29, 2013, 3:48 pm |

      You can get ‘fluff’ in France? I’ve looked everywhere here in Australia for fluff, can’t get it for love nor money. I asked in Coles if they were going to get any fluff in, no chance they said.

      You can’t even buy fluff online here in Australia, I’m at a loss. I used to have fluff all the time in England, but haven’t seen any for over six years.

      Still, can’t have everything 🙂

  • Rupert November 15, 2013, 9:12 am |

    Ah yes, the English section. Supporting the local economy is alive and well I see 😉

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