What is Marmite?

Marmite is a strong-tasting, salty goo made from yeast that is a by-product of beer manufacture.

“Why? Dear God why?”

This is the reaction of Italians – and most other foreigners – when they first taste this stuff.

For example, my fidanzata says “Marmite looks like asphalt, it smells like asphalt, and it tastes like it smells”. Needless to say I have not been able to coax her into the Marmite-lovers’ fold.

A fresh jar of Marmite
Only Brits will really understand the excitement at seeing the untouched tarry landscape of the top of a fresh jar of Marmite.

Marmite one of those strange things that few people see the appeal of unless they grew up with it. Most British people grew up with Marmite as a spread for bread or toast, and many of them begin to crave this spread even more than normal when abroad, possibly as a yearning for the old country, or nostalgia  for their childhood, or because no self-respecting foreigner would even consider stocking it in their shops.

Yet even British people who grew up with Marmite are polarised in their opinions. The Marmite company very cleverly realised this and created an effective marketing campaign (“Love it or hate it” – “Si ama o si odia”) which acknowledges that even some British people view this sticky treat with horror.

And yet it is still incredibly popular: according to the Marmite company, twenty-five per cent of British people bring Marmite with them when travelling overseas.

Why this site?

I’m an English expatriate living in Rome and I have been craving Marmite for several months.

If you’re British and you are reading the Marmite in Italy site, you will understand why it exists. If you’re from Australia, New Zealand or South Africa you may also understand, because those countries have their own yeast spreads too: Vegemite in Australia (which is saltier but lighter in texture), British-style Marmite in South Africa, and in New Zealand they have their own version of Marmite (which is sweeter and less sticky).

I have found that there is not much information on the Web about where you can buy Marmite in Italy, so I set this site up to consolidate Marmite information, to help from England, Scotland, Wales (and perhaps Northern Ireland) who are living in Italy discover where they can buy Marmite.

I am also hoping it may introduce our Italian friends to the wonders that is this salty ambrosia – or at least encourage them to try it. Even if they do react like my fidanzata did.

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6 thoughts on “What is Marmite?”

  1. I just finished my toast with butter and marmite; I’m Italian (“de Roma!”) but my father is english, so, yeah, I learnt to love marmite thanks to him! I’m here just because I was looking for something on the internet to make my fidanzato understand what I was having lol. Nice site tho. Buona serata!

  2. I fell in love with Marmite in 2008, when I tasted it for the first time while visiting a friend in UK.
    From then on I’ve never been without it. Whenever I go to UK I always come back with a supply of Marmite for a few months. My UK friends and acquiantances know well what to bring to me 😀

    1. So pleased to hear that Piermario. You’re in an amazing minority here!

      Bit of a confession though: I hated the stuff myself until I was in my mid-20s. One day, hungry with only bread to eat and nothing to put it on, I thought I’d give it another go on toast, and it just ‘clicked’.

      Maybe try a bit in your Italian recipes now…

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How to buy and use Marmite in Italy