Thursday, 30 June 2011

I am "doing a boiling"

this morning. Frequent readers of my ramblings will have come across mention of this before. "Doing a boiling" was my paternal grandmother's term for making marmalade. I have no idea why. (If anyone can enlighten me I would be most interested.)
Yesterday, as I was slicing the grapefruit ready to soak, I thought of two things. The first was that I was using a "gadget" in order to slice the fruit. It is some German made device and highly effective for this particular task. I do not use it for anything else although it claims to cut any sort of fruit and vegetable. No doubt it does but it is faster and easier to use a sharp knife. The gadget however does manage to slice the rind very thinly - and my father likes his marmalade that way. It would seem that other recipients of jars of marmalade also feel that way. It makes me wonder who likes "Oxford Thick Cut" from Seville oranges.
But the other thing I thought of was descriptions of food in children's books. Was marmalade mentioned anywhere? Definitely. It gets mentioned rather nastily in Diana Wynne Jones' book "Charmed Life" where the marmalade gets turned to worms (and back again) at breakfast time.
It gets casually mentioned in other places too, mostly as a breakfast food - although there is mention of marmalade tart in Elinor Lyon's "The House in Hiding".
I also thought of ordinary food as mentioned in Anne Barrett's book, "Songberd's Grove", in William Mayne's "A swarm in May" and Margaret Storey's "Pauline". Then there are more extraordinary descriptions in places like Elzabeth Goudge's afternoon tea in "The Little White Horse" and JK Rowling's description of Harry's first school feast in "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone". There are "midnight feasts" in school stories by the likes of Enid Blyton and others. During my time at boarding school I know other students tried midnight feasting. I think, from their descriptions, it was pretty much a failure (when they did not get caught). I slept through anything like that - having told them I was not interested. I have never been interested in consuming food late at night. It makes me think the descriptions are unrealistic.
All this has made me wonder about food in books. How much of it is a realistic description? Probably very little. Possibly it would not be worth mentioning if it was but there are little things that remain with me. "There were bread buns for tea, brown ones which Aunty Madge made herself, with butter and blackcurrant jam." That is comfort food - and perhaps writing.
What do you remember?


Sarah Pearson said...

If you mention marmalade and children's books in the same breath, I instantly think of Paddington Bear.

catdownunder said...

Yes! I left him out deliberately because I KNEW someone would pounce. He deserves the "ultimate marmalade mention medal" of course.

Anonymous said...

You beast Cat! You said you were going to leave something out just to make me think - and I didn't get it until Sarah said it. Of course Paddington! How could I forget Paddington? I am sorry Paddington! Ros