Jan. 11th, 2016

hirez: (Pie!)
It's that time of year again.

It's usually quite pleasant to take a loop round bits of Bath of a lunchtime, especially right now while it's the close season on irritating crocodiles of irritating French youth. It used to be, or maybe still is a common written belief that French teenagers were better dressed and/or more 'sophisticated' (whatever that actually means) than our own. After sadly extensive research, I call 'complete bollocks' on that.

However, while there aren't that many sullen little oiks meandering into the street in front of buses, places like Kingsmead Square are good to walk across. There's usually a fruit & veg stall, run by some hardy and amiable sorts who don't seem to bother with the brass-lunged howling perpetrated by the mob who set up stall outside Marks and Sparks. Since they had Seville oranges in, I availed myself of a carrier - 'You'll be wanting some lemons, too' went the bloke, since he'll have seen marmalade pilots before now.

As is the nature of these things, I discovered that I had no surplus jam jars when at home. I also forgot to beetle out to Lakeland for a box of the things because making a 4x10Gb card work in an old server took more swearing than I anticipated.

At the weekend, we had to beetle off to a posh garden centre because they were the next nearest supplier of organic flour for the breadmaking machine. (Middle class bingo!) Across the way from the collection of flour that we did not want was the sort of expensively-not-rustic table that keeps artisanal things off the floor where they should be. It was mounded with Kilner-branded things. Jars, thermometers, tiny wee annoyances of cam-lidded jars that you could keep one teaspoon of something in and a make-your-own-bacon kit (live pig eyeing you with due suspicion - not included). I couldn't find a box of jam jars, mind.

In the middle of the Kilner-pile and easily overlooked among the traditional jam thermometers, rustic preserving funnels and wooden display boxes with rope handles akin to ammunition boxes destined for some terrifying middle-class war zone, were a pair of single jars. Two quid a go. For a single jar. With 'Home-made marmalade' screen printed on the side in some traditional font lovingly selected by craftsman designers and organic focus groups.

Had I not been distracted by a huge wall of Thompson & Morgan seed packets, I would have steamed out of the shop in medium dudgeon.

It's... I'm one-and-a-bit generations off a set of people who made jam (and/or marmalade, pickles et al) from the stuff they grew (or not, in the case of Seville oranges) because it's what you did. Mostly it was for consuming over the course of yea-many months because there wasn't a bloody Tesco local open 'til 10 on a Sunday where you could get fresh(ish) strawberries that had been flown in from wherever. Sometimes it was for showing off at the produce show and maybe winning a prize. Jam jars came from a dusty shelf or the back of a cupboard where they'd been stored after (re)use.

They did not come on a faux-rustic table with a designery typeface for two quid each on the assumption that the full extent of your fruit-preservation effort would be a pair of bloody jars to show off like you're the third coming of some pioneering frontier type bringing civilisation to the untamed wilds of Almondsbury.

And yet.

I don't have to have anything to do with this. I can/should go to the shop like a normal person and buy nice marmalade in a nice jar, rather than boil my own bitter concoction that's got all the finesse of someone hammering whole oranges into the filthy jars that he found at the bottom of the garden. I'm the one with the handy tesco and the handy farm shop and the handy lidl. Any notions I have about keeping fruit to feed my family in the lean months are a complete fiction. It's a pointless bloody exercise that leaves a sticky residue across half the kitchen and a selection of half-started jars that eventually attract new and exciting strains of mould.

And yet.

There's a few more weeks of the Seville season. I can't help but feel that I should be out there, buying all the oranges I can find. Because otherwise they'll go to waste.

I had a point, but hell if I know what it was. Probably that I go mental in the winter. Also Baudrillard.


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