Rewriting a national cultural food icon : a gastrobiography of Vegemite
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Donna Brien
In the current publishing environment, where there is an unprecedented level of reader interest in food-related texts, a wide range of subject matter is providing a rich source of opportunities for writers. In this context, the individual food product (either biological or processed) is one such area of professional and creative opportunity. Suggesting that the ‘gastrobiography’ is a form of writing that can serve the particular interests of writers as well as their readers and publishers, this article defines the term and its applications in food writing. It then presents a gastrobiography of Vegemite, utilising the form to consider the yeast spread’s history, ongoing role in Australian life, and how this has been conceptualised and written about. Also investigated is Vegemite’s place in the personal politics of eating and politics more broadly. In the process, the gastrobiographical form is revealed as one that can present Vegemite as a site of contradiction and paradox that can reveal much about the world in which it is produced and sold.