Sea Sick Mary

Padding Bear eating a marmalade sandwich

Padding Bear eating a marmalade sandwich

There are some weird theories about the word ‘marmalade’. Personally I was never got beyond what made marmalade different from jam.

Jam, jelly and marmalade are all made from fruit and sugar, set by naturally occurring pectin.

Jam uses the whole fruit; cherries, berries and apricots. Marmalade uses only the juice of citrus fruit with shredded boiled peel for a bit of tang.

Like marmalade, jellies such as quince jelly, apple and grape jelly only use the juice.

Except for grape jelly, which is hard to find in England, they are traditionally used with savouries: meat and cheese.

The USA calls Dessert Jelly: Jello. It is set using gelatine.

The word jelly comes from the Italian gelido – meaning chilled.

Just to go off-piste for a moment… Why orange?

Oranges come from China where they were grown for more than two millennia. The name comes from the ancient Sanskrit word ‘naranja’. The word reached Europe through the Arabic word ‘naranj’.

In the 1400s Spanish and Portuguese traders to India introduced oranges to Europe. The Greek and Turkish words for orange are ‘portakili’ and ‘portakal’, which comes from their version of the word ‘Portugal’. Turkish has a different word for the colour orange – ‘turuncu’ – because they had the colour before the fruit. (Guess where I lived for 5 years!)

Lemons are related to oranges, but tropical; from South Asia and North India. Although known to ancient Rome, lemons were not widespread until the 1500s when they came to Europe via the Ottoman Empire.

Limes are hybrids – not just one type of fruit but a whole group. The word ‘limu’ is Arabic for lemon. Limes are used unripe. They turn yellow when ripe and have an unpleasant flowery taste.

Back to marmalade…

When I was a kid I was told marmalade got its name because Henry VIII’s daughter Bloody Mary (Blood Oranges are not named after her) used it as medicine… Marie Malade (French for Mary sick).

Or it was originally a cure for sea sickness… Mer Malade (French again).

Needless to say whoever imparted these nuggets was barking up the wrong (citrus) tree – if not barking mad. (Barking mad is another post entirely).

The word appeared in English around 1480 from the Portuguese word marmelada; which in turn comes from the Portuguese word marmelo – a quince ‘cheese’ – a thick sweet jelly made from the pulp of quinces. It tastes a bit rose-flavoured but not sickly. Quinces are related to apples, which, believe it or not, are related to roses!

Quince was one of the first cultivated fruits and was sacred to Aphrodite the goddess of love. They were used on a wedding day to perfume the happy couple’s breath.

When you read about golden apples in Greek myth, such as the golden apples of immortality on the isle of the Hesperides, they are probably quinces. It might also explain why in the Judgement of Paris, he chose to give the golden apple to Aphrodite… it belonged to her anyway (What Men Want).

Some think Eve tempted Adam in the Garden of Eden not with an apple but a quince; representing burgeoning sexuality.

But why Paddington Bear?

Well, Paddington Bear likes marmalade.

And, while not everyone likes marmalade, who can resist Paddington Bear?

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