Friday, November 10, 2006

Confiture de Fraises

Jam. Not the most inspiring word.

Jam. It has about as much charm as 'lump' or 'bag' or any of the other sensible, sturdy Saxon terms that cover the essentials of daily life.

Preserve. Better.
Say it. Preserve. Those long syllables wrapped aound that sensual central 'z' and comfortably smoothed off with that 'v' (with the subtle iconic power of the spoken word.........) can conjure up summer sun, autumn harvest, and pantry shelves laden with potted pleasures.

And stimulate the senses with the prospect of thick butter spread on thicker bread, and a great dollop of gleaming colour; of the sweet sharp smell of sugar and fruit; and the simple, infinitely complex appreciation of that first bite into pure taste, texture and aroma.

And it sounds even better in French.
(If you've tasted French confitures, you'll know why.)
Repetez s'il vous plais: Confiture de fraises...... yeah....

Such pleasures need to be savoured, otherwise, it's just bread and jam - a tasty snack, grabbed on the hoof between one thing and the next. On a busy day I prefer savouries and plenty of water to keep me going, though jam doughnuts and chocolate fudge brownies have an important place on a mad busy day, especially towards the end of the week. This, of course, is all about comfort: nutritional value and the evils of bad-carb highs and lows are of no interest to me by 10 o'clock on a Thursday morning, when the priority is to get to the end of Thursday afternoon!

But when there is time, and time out, good bread and jam is a pleasure in itself, and in my case layered with memories of childhood quince jam from my grandmother's quince bushes, accidental blackberry toffee (and after all, anyone can make blackberry jam) made after a blackberrying expotition with my aunt, and all those sensory pleasures you unthinkingly soak up as a child. The associations are also part of that: Grandmere's quince bushes; Aunt D's visit; and there's more of course, like my parents' blissful discovery of Polish jams (Krakow brand, I think) ..... damson... morello cherry...... gooseberry....

However, I never buy jam. Childhood again. We would have porridge or toast and jam in the mornings, (How many loaves of bread do you suppose seven children can go through at one sitting?) a main meal mid-day, and plenty more toast in the evenings; as an adult, my pattern involves a morning refuelling stop with egg sandwich or muesli and yoghurt, a turkey and cheese sandwich from the gas station for lunch, and something fab cooked by Habibi in the evenings. Moreover, since my once fairly trim rectangle has subsided into an increasingly squishy pear-shape (sigh) hot buttered toast with lashings of jam - What's the point if you skimp? - is not a good idea! I know why French Women Don't Get Fat, and one of these days I'll do something about it, but for now............. sad, I know.....

Anyway, it's been a very tiring fortnight (very satisfying though) with another ten days to go before touchdown, and here it is, a bright Friday morning seen through a weary grey haze. And we have Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserve......

The latest association, therefore, is between the pleasures of a brand new pot of, not strawberry jam, but Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserve, with its red gingham patterned lid, that satisfying thwuk as the vacuum seal gives, and all the subsequent comfort of a perfect treat after an exhausting week - and my darling husband, who has not only put up with plaster of paris, zombie wife, and zombie wife's complete domestic hopelessness in the fortnight before a school production (every year for five years, though sometimes it's papier mache or wire or the sewing machine rather than p-o-p) ----------- yes, my Habibi, who brought home a pot of confiture de fraises especially for me, with love.

4 comments:

elle said...

So why don't french women get fat?

MamaDuck said...

Quality over quantity: e.g. two small, exquisite squares of the best chocolate money can buy, instead of a whole bar of common or garden chocolate, like what us lesser (or greater..) mortals go for.

Of course, since there's a book, rather than a bullet point, there's probably more to it, but I believe that's the gist. =)

Mme Cyn said...

Lyrically written, MamaDuck. Shame I'm on a diet (again)...

Laetitia698 said...

Good post, thanks ! One of the best strawberry jam I've tasted is here :
http://www.testadaz.com/mic/00030.html
(hand made, and far better than "Bonne Maman" on your photo)