A King's Breakfast

I waste quite a bit of time on the internet trying to establish exactly what Maggie Smith said about marmalade in Gosford Park.

There is a bit of business with one of the servants, who looks anxious and says ‘Does she have to have marmalade? Only Dorothy made too little of it last January and we’ve run out of the homemade. I don’t suppose she’d care for strawberry jam instead?’ Then cut to Maggie Smith playing the Countess of Trentham, saying sniffily to her breakfast tray: ‘Oh dear. Bought marmalade? Dear me, I call that very feeble.’

In those days, the well-heeled (i.e. those who had their own cooks) used ‘bought’ marmalade only when the homemade stocks ran out. For the likes of a countess, buying it ready-made was rather a non-U thing to do. Had the Countess been able to see a few years into the future, she’d have been horrified to see Edward VIII asking Fortnum’s to send marmalade and kippers to Paris for his wedding breakfast in 1936. A little taste of home for the recently exiled, perhaps.

Marmalade in Verse
And all of that reminds me of The King’s Breakfast by A A Milne, which, despite being anti-marmalade, is so nostalgic and pleasantly silly that I have to include it here. Click the link and enjoy.

Proof that everyone has something to say about marmalade Pt. 3
Brief chat with two friends in the cafĂ©; I tell them I’m blogging about marmalade because it’s so easy to get people to talk about it. Is it really? they say, then talk about it for a good 20 minutes.

Tamsin starts things off by saying she saw a promising jar of marmalade in the local delicatessen, ‘but I couldn’t buy it, because I didn’t like the label. It was just awful.’ Marmalade-sellers beware – you are judged by your covers (and a lot of them are awful).

She adds that she used to put marmalade on her fish fingers at breakfast at boarding school. I am mostly horrified that they had fish fingers for breakfast. Then again, I did once read that the aforementioned Edward VIII ate his breakfast kippers with a dab of marmalade – it was in the papers, so it must be true – so she and her schoolmates might have been on to something.

Kirsten counters that with her favourite snack: Marmite and marmalade on toast. Together.  Marmite and honey I can recommend; but marmalade? (Of course, now that she’s put it into my head, I have to try it. But I may have to build up to it.)

Another 20 minutes of my life spent happily discussing marmalade.


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