Friday, 23 May 2014

A Bit of Trivia

A Bit of Trivia

Some time ago, while browsing through the office bookshelves in a lull between urging customers to buy more stuff, I found a promising four entries for marmalade in the index of  Traditional Foods of Britain (Laura Mason & Catherine Brown, Prospect Books), and three for marmelo, the Portuguese word for quince, which slowly evolved into 'marmalade'. 

The first marmelo reference is related to Jersey Black Butter, something my sister brought back for us to try on her last trip to Jersey, and which didn't immediately grab me. It was very thick, rich and sweet and slightly odd, so it's still sitting in the pantry, unloved. But it is exactly
 this kind of paste, or fruit cheese, that was originally known as marmalade, before it began to evolve into today's breakfast spread.

The book has a lengthy and detailed description of Dundee Marmalade, and includes the startling fact that 'nearly all bitter Seville oranges grown in southern Spain are destined for marmalade for the British market'. Someone should go to Spain and tell them they're missing out – how could the food-loving Spaniards not know the delights of Seville orange marmalade? I sense a marketing opportunity.

Further gems include the fact that the Empress of Russia and the Queen of Greece, both granddaughters of Queen Victoria, had marmalade sent to them by Wilkins of Tiptree, and that Frank Cooper of Oxford has in its archives a tin of marmalade from 1911, taken on Scott's expedition to the North Pole. It was found, frozen, in 1980. Marmalade also went up Mount Everest with the British team. Marmalade really does seem to be essential to keeping up those indomitable British spirits. More from this excellent book in due course.

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