“rinds stuck to a pan” – Haiku and a Short Note on Marmalade – Crosse and Blackwell

rinds stuck to a pan,
sweet, bitter, burnt; the taste of
the new marmalade

cross and blackwell.jpg

The marmalade that evoked my memory of citrus rinds or “chips” stuck to the bottom of a pan is from Crosse and Blackwell. It is not as sour as the homemade marmalade we ate growing up in Pakistan but it does present the traditional bitterness of Seville oranges, as American marmalades seldom do.

This article from the New York Times goes into the history of marmalade, including listing famous fans such as Antarctic explorer Robert Scott, Sir Edmund Hilary of Everest fame, and Bond, James Bond. The paragraphs I found most interesting, though, were about the place of marmalade in the British Empire.

With its long keeping qualities, due to its high sugar content, commercial marmalade proved to be an excellent export. As the British Empire expanded during the 19th century, seafarers brought homemade and commercial marmalades, as well as recipes, to colonies around the globe.

Adapting these recipes to utilize local fruits, West Indian cooks used a preponderance of limes for marmalade. Ex-patriot Britons made “country marmalade” in India from pomelos, the thick-skinned and rather coarse ancestor of the grapefruit. Australians used sweet, bitter and mandarin oranges and lemons, and later, citrons, kumquats and grapefruits. New Zealanders today often combine grapefruits and sweet oranges, while South African cooks utilize a wide assortment of local citrus fruit.

Anglophone Canada inherited a strong Seville orange marmalade tradition from its many English and Scottish immigrants.

We had the aforementioned pomelos as well as grapefruits growing in our large garden, but what went into our marmalade was a super sour and bitter hybrid between an orange and lemon locally called a “khata,” which simply means “sour.” We had an entire row of these, which we also used in our recipe of Pakistani salt meat or Hunter Beef (a version of corned beef that requires long marination in juice and spices). If you can keep a secret, missionary families sometimes made this with the wild boar that the hunters amongst us shot in dangerous trips in the reedy wilds by the river.

Our family also used these “khatas” in a very sweet, very sour hot lemonade we made in the winters, which we always tried to get our middle brother to make, claiming only he was the one who could make it perfectly! Whoever did end up making it, though, it was a great tonic against the chill of winter on the northern Punjabi plains in our brick house with 20″ foot ceilings.


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