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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{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Jo Sharp October 24, 2021, 2:05 pm |

    I am a UK Marmite Baby (yes it’s an actual thing)! an old TV advert asked…”are YOU a Marmite Baby?” …yes I am and I’m in NZ, with no sign of getting any Marmite! Help! I need my UK Marmite as nowt else will do I’m afraid. New World are supposed to sell it but don’t have it. The shops set up in NZ selling UK foods are all charging like a wounded bull, plus postage on top, so I’m hanging out for New World to get stock in. If you know where I can get ‘Our Mate’ in NZ, that won’t break the bank…do tell?! 🙂

    • BobinOz October 26, 2021, 7:22 pm |

      Oh my word, I thought New Zealand was a good place to live? How can it be when there is no Marmite! 🙂

      I can’t help you I’m afraid, I just don’t know where you can buy it, all I know is we have plenty of ‘Our Mate’ on the shelves here in Australia 🙂 sorry..

      Maybe you need to holiday in Australia when the bubble is working?

  • Lin September 2, 2021, 12:05 pm |

    Born and bred in Malaysia. I love marmite because I grew up with it in my rice porridge (ok, I appreciate that not all can appreciate it :p), toast and …As a kid, I like to lick it from my spoon like others would with peanut butter.

    When I first arrived in Aussie, I mistaken vegemite as marmite. That’s a very big mistake! Have you tried to apply a layer of vegemite as thick as you’d normally do with marmite on your toast? Yup, then you know what I’ve gone through to learn the difference between the two.

    So, I was on the quest to try every brand with a suffix-mites or anything resembles it included promites. The day I discovered ourmates, I felt like I’d strike gold.

    Now, I’m blessed to live in a suburbs where British food is popular snd I can easily stick up my ourmates from my local Woolworths and Coles:)

    • BobinOz September 2, 2021, 7:51 pm |

      Ha ha, yes, as you’ve discovered, Vegemite is NOT Marmite. Our mate IS though, so all is good for Marmite lovers in Australia. We had a bit of a shortage of Our Mate when the pandemic first started, you just could not buy it in the shops.

      But it is back on the shelves again now, so that particular panic is over.

      Interesting to hear you put in your porridge, maybe I’ll suggest that to my daughter who likes both Marmite and porridge. So surely she has to like the two together? 🙂

  • Huntl1972 December 19, 2020, 11:21 pm |

    I come from England but have lived in Australia for 20 years. I have a son that is now 14 yeears old, he has been raised with Vegemite, however recentIy I have been ordering Marmite form the UK, mostly beacuase of my roots and i’m sure it tasted better, however that doesn’t count because I am from England. However my son is not. He prefers Marmite

    • BobinOz December 22, 2020, 3:56 pm |

      Good to hear that Marmite comes out on top, even for an Aussie. Might have to start ordering it online ourselves from the UK, it doesn’t seem to be available in the supermarkets anymore since the pandemic set in.

  • Nicky July 8, 2020, 8:11 am |

    Ok I am now confessing to pandemic hoarding…..having discovered that Our Mate is out of stock in Woolworths and Coles, online and in store, I had to find my ‘fix’. I’ve lived in Oz over 30 years and NONE of the local substitutes will do! Luckily I found a local online store still with stock – so I bought 4 jars. Maybe the pandemic will be over when I have finished my hoarded stock!

    • BobinOz July 9, 2020, 8:47 pm |

      I fully understand, there was a similar panic in our household when our local Coles ran out of Our Mate, wife and daughter were in a terrible panic. Stock has now been replenished, so all is calm in the household again.

      If, by the time you finished your four jars, the pandemic is over, that would be fantastic 🙂

  • Erica February 12, 2019, 12:21 pm |

    Forgot to add:

    The Malaysian stuff cost me a whopping £7.05 equivalent for 230gms.

    Our Mate seems to have some connection with the Philippines, so I wonder what the market is like in Asia. Sri Lankans are recommended to try their Marmite with noodles (?) or roti (hmmm).

    For the record, I think the best of the Australian stuff is AussieMite.


    • BobinOz February 12, 2019, 7:56 pm |

      AussieMite is a new one on me, not sure we’ve ever tried that one in this house, it might be some time until we need to as well.

      Last year my wife and daughter went back to the UK for a visit, returned with (I think) about eight large jars of Marmite, 500g’s each one. Should keep them going for a while, or so I thought, but I’ve just checked the cupboard.

      Only three left.

      Maybe we will be visiting either those Sri Lankan or Malaysian stores 🙂

      Thanks for the Marmite tips, Bob

      • Simon McLean May 4, 2019, 10:50 am |

        Yes the Marmite, Vegemite et al discussion continues to fascinate relative to many historical and culinary elements. Political too, I would imagine. To wit…, Marmite being the British contender, out dating as far as I know the other majors. Now, Marmite in Orztraya is (arguably), a gift (the arguable bit), from our dear Kiwi friends (this means the food boffins in NZ if you are unfamiliar with this term) and so to market it in Australia they simply nicked the name from the Brits (as they’re so far away and Oz is much closer and speaks much the same language). The problem that arose was elementary.

        Students of the history of Western Civilisation, in particular that of Australia, which incidentally is a southern civilisation, well some bits of it, mainly on it’s Eastern Coast, which really makes it an eastern civilisation.., well, most of you would be aware that this depends on how you are holding a map or using a world globe as a basket, right.. yes; Australia is populated by an astounding number of UK migrants and their offspring and the multitudanal, multicultural offspring of the aforementioned offspring. No US rock band references here, dear friends.

        Oh no, this is Australia and the colonial adherence to a ‘fair go’ demanded that our British cousins be allowed their right to their own Marmite. After all, it’s been strongly suggested that it originated somewhere within the Empire.

        And so, enter OurMate, UK Marmite straight from the the white cliffs of Dover (metaphorically) to our sun starched shores and sunburnt supermarket shoppers, but with the label ripped off and a new one pasted on (Marmite (UK) being a great adhesive, check for improperly sealed jars). (Disclaimer – for humorous purposes only).

        Vegemite was originally called ‘Parwill’s’, as ‘Ma Might’.., if you see that simple connection. Older people like your Great Grandma will pronounce it Vej – e- mite, the ‘e’ phonetically, but since I was a lad in the 60’s it’s been Vej-ee-mite. Interestingly, Weet-Bix are still called Weet-A-Bix by the same great grandparents, the ones that are somehow still alive with a letter from the Queen stuck to their foreheads (Marmite again!), not to be confused with older people in Tasmania, a small island near Australia and New Zealand where it’s rumoured some folk have four heads, which would take a lot of Marmite to adhere letters from the Queen to, if it works that way and would be evidence that Tasmanians can live to be 400 years old. Wow!

        Imitators come and go, from whence and to where is merely supposition. Aussie Mite and the inedible and possibly petroleum based Bi-Lo Mite have passed, as no doubt have those who took the risk to consume them. Entrepreneur Dick Smith tried something that looked like it, maybe just whacking an Aussie flag on one of the above; or was Aussie Mite his?

        Beware.. the ones with corn flour! Your spread, should you choose to accept it, must be either a yeast or vegetable extract. Bonox doesn’t count because you’re supposed to drink it, silly. And anyway, it’s condensed/extracted/genetically endowed beef. So there.

        In this wide browned (sic) land of ours (the colour of Vegemite, patriots!), we have a lot to thank the US for. Diversity is one thing. The UK has Bonox, the US Coca Cola (a fizzy Bonoxish thing but usually imbibed cold), however at risk of debate I will state: Promite Trumps Them All.

        For further research I suggest you hunker down with some Bushell’s (tea) and Vegemite on toast with real butter and get cracking. A whole new world of oral delight awaits you.., um, can I say that?

        Rev SF McLean

        • BobinOz May 7, 2019, 5:38 pm |

          Um, well you have said it 🙂

          And lots more, so thank you for the brief history of Vegemite and all things Marmite.

          Here is some additional stuff. A friend of my wife who lives in England sent her a Marmite chocolate Easter egg last month, well it was Easter.

          Both my wife and daughter love Marmite, and we all love chocolate. But all three of us agreed this thing was absolutely disgusting. Pretty much one taster piece each, and the rest went in the bin.

          Not recommended.

  • Erica February 12, 2019, 12:10 pm |

    Marmite sleuthing:

    You cab buy UK Marmite imported via Sri Lanka at some Sri Lankan delis. At today’s exchange rate, it costs about for £4.60 for 230gms. It appears to be the gen stuff. Note that the ingredients listed on the cardboard box are different from the ingredients listed on the jar.

    You can also buy UK Marmite imported via Malaysia (Asian delis). This too appears to be the gen stuff. Note though that this has a third different list of ingredients.

    I haven’t tried Our Mate but the jar in our supermarket doesn’t list the ingredients at all.


  • 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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