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Your reminder that forrin is different

As part of efforts to inject new life into decades of tradition, Hugh Elliott presented the mayor of Seville, José Luis Sanz, with jars of marmalade that he had made himself with oranges plucked from a 500 year old tree in the fragrant gardens of the Alcázar royal palace.

In the past he has sent marmalade to Buckingham Palace but this time he was keen that the oranges should return to the Alcázar, transformed into diplomatic gold.

Speaking at the first Hay Forum in Seville, Mr Sanz admitted: “I don’t usually like marmalade but I have to say that this one has ‘un toque especial’ [a special touch]. It is sweeter than other marmalades. From tomorrow, it will become part of my family breakfast table.”

This coast, from Portimao through to Seville, is infested with orange trees. And they don’t make marmalade here. The word itself means something differeint in Portuguese, more like a paste of quince. You can, sometimes and sometimes only, find orange jam in the supermarkets – as you can tomato jam and carrot jam – but marmalade not so much. Sometimes even an “amarga” orange jam which is a “dry” or perhaps “sour” version which becomes close.

But marmalade itself is a British thing. Made from Seville oranges, yes, from oranges grown here often enough even today. But not made here.

Forreign’s different, see?

11 thoughts on “Your reminder that forrin is different”

  1. One does wonder if orange marmalade will ever become popular in Portugal.

    Of course I prefer lime marmalade myself. But there’s still plenty of the orange sort available in Oz.

  2. During the war, the ( supposedly) neutral Spanish had to launch an intelligence operation to see why the British were buying up all their bitter oranges. They simply couldn’t believe that they were all going for marmalade.

  3. In the posh Sussex village we have recently vacated, there was a very British ritual surrounding the making of marmalade. People waited eagerly for the right type of Seville oranges to appear in the market; several ladies bought the lot, and set to work; then in due course the jars would appear, and be sold or given away. (As the inhabitants of the Rectory, we got ours free!) Then would come the informal process of tasting, comparing, and judging.


  4. “But marmalade itself is a British thing.”

    If you read Victorian novels you’ll find that Londoners viewed it as an exotic import from Pictland.

  5. Yeah like Tim, I’ve got used to thinking of marmalada as just jam. Can’t say I like the tomato stuff much though. Although since tomatoes are actually a fruit, why not? I find the nearby supermarket own brand marmalada de naranjas indistinguishable from an equivalent UK supermarket product. (Yes it is labelled armarga) Although it’s curios one rarely sees marmaladas of the other citrus fruits, here.
    The Spanish do have a considerably different attitude to sweetness to Brits. Pretty well anything “sweet” will be so full of sugar it’ll make your teeth curl. Makes most of their biscuits & cakes inedible.
    I’d always presumed we’d acquired marmalade during the Peninsular War. It’d have been the orange one because that’d be the cheapest. Oranges are practically a waste product here. But as Mr Pict says, the Jocks seem to have beaten us to it in the C16th. A by-product of conspiracies around Mary, Queen of Scots?

  6. So the origin story goes war captured cargo of Seville oranges turns up in Dundee. No one know what to do with tehm, they’re going off, bought up cheap by a Mr. Kiellor – whose wife then takes over. Possibly too neat to be wholly true as the only origin. But it does seem to be Pictish in origin.

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