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  • AS A KID, I hated all jams whose names ended in “berry” – straw-, rasp-, blue-, elder-, etc. I hated the way the seeds made a gritty sound and stuck in my teeth.

    Yes, I was a fussy kid when it came to eating. Don’t even get me started on macaroni and cheese, lima beans, peas, and baked beans.

    Brussels sprouts? Fuhgeddaboudit.

    ON THE OTHER HAND, as the lawyers like to say, there’s orange marmalade, clearly one of God’s most glorious gifts. Like beer, it stands as proof that the Almighty loves us and wants us to be happy.

    I’m not talking about that wimpy sweet stuff made by the people who make the preserved fruit spreads usually paired up with peanut butter in kids’ school lunches. No, I’m talking about the slightly bitter English, Scottish, French, German and other enlightened jam-making recipes, which work their magic with the key elements of good orange marmalade – Seville oranges, cleaned, cooked with minimal sugar under vacuum, then shredded so that the candied peels are part of the mix.

    My first marmalade, at age 5 (the first I remember, anyway), was William Pickles Hartley’s (his real name, cross my heart and hope to die), made in Liverpool and Aintree, England. Elsie, the German farm wife who lived up the path from our cottage, fed me Hartley’s marmalade on toast when she came in to look after me while my folks were away.

    Nowadays, I use Bonne Maman French orange marmalade. It’s the closest thing I’ve been able to find readily available where I live.

    For a while, I used Hero Swiss orange marmalade, which had the excellent semi-sweet, fruity quality I remembered from the English and Scottish marmalades of my youth. Can’t seem to find it on the grocery shelves around here any more.
  • My paternal granny in Michigan swore by James Keiller’s “Dundee” Scottish orange marmalade. Back then, it was sold in attractive white stoneware crocks with baked-on black lettering, now collectors’ items. The folklore is that a Spanish cargo ship sought refuge from a storm somewhere on the Scottish coast (Dundee?). To save its cargo of Seville oranges from spoilage, the master sold them to James Keiller, a merchant. His wife, Janet, made them into marmalade and an industry was born.

    My granny’s name was Janet. Love that story. Most of it is pure balderdash, apparently, but we all know better than to let fact get in the way of a good story.

    The English firm Crosse & Blackwell makes a good bitter Seville orange marmalade, although a smidgen on the sweet side for me (if memory serves).
  • Anyhow, as our Russian friends say...

    Мне нравится английский оранжевый горький мармелад, с большим количеством сливочного масла, на свежие, теплый французский круассан, и свежий обжаренный кофе со сливками. Я должен съесть, кору деревьев и тофу?

    "I like English bitter orange marmalade, with lots of butter, fresh, warm French Croissant, and fresh roasted coffee with cream. Should I eat tree bark and tofu?"

    My vegan daughter would say yes. So would my doctor.
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