Thursday, December 20, 2007


A proper scone is like something between a muffin and a biscuit only it has been driven to the brink of complete and unforgettable dryness. Only a good self-hating people would devise and perpetuate such a thing. If you’re going to suffer, suffer well. So say the Brits. And I for one stand with them.

From The Guide:

The only true way to mitigate the dryness of a proper scone is with the liberal use of genuine clotted cream (from Devonshire), which has, on more than one occasion, been said to have a slightly scalded or cooked flavor.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Marmalade is a very special case indeed. Made from the very bitterest oranges on earth (or at least, Seville). If a little bit goes a long way, then a lot goes a really long way. Marmalade.

From The Guide:

At first I was quite taken aback at the unearthly bitterness of this boiled orange concoction these Scots keep calling marmalade, but over time (three times), I began to understand. Along with the bitterness is a mature, dare I say, sophisticated quality in the flavor, which cannot be achieved using the more delicate Oranges from other parts. I do not claim to fully comprehend how it is that a thing so bitter should also be so plainly addictive. But it does not fail to remind me of that most horrible villain from S, Mr. J.P. Stokes, who was not only responsible for the most unnatural deaths of over forty-three women, but who was also one of the most unusual looking young gentleman the world has ever seen. When it was time for him to hang on the gallows. The townsfolk insisted on a most unprecedented measure, that Mr. Stokes remain unhooded throughout the process. The judge agreed. For he too could not take his eyes from upon his startling visage.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jelly and Jam

Jam is made by boiling fruit (has fruit bits in it). Jelly is made from fruit juice and does not have fruit bits in it (think Dow Corning). Preserves are basically like jam. Marmalade is a citrus-based preserve. We’ll talk about this in a minute. Let me cut right to the point. There is nothing to be ashamed of in liking jam. With so many different kinds available. There are almost as many jams as there are fruits. Maybe more.

Raspberry – A good idea, because raspberries are really expensive and tend to go bad before you can even get them safely home. And raspberry preserves do, in fact, convey the idea of raspberry fairly well.
Apricot – Yes.
Clementine – Yes again.
Fig – I will admit that I am rather new to the whole fig game, myself not having emanated from any of the fig-bearing lands. But, I have to tell you, that I am beginning to understand the fuss. Fig jam is a rich and mature taste, which takes little getting used to and becomes more and more fascinating with each session.
Apple-Walnut-Pear – Surely a complex and sophisticated mix of flavors for a bit of bread or toast. There is nothing to be ashamed of here. And don't the Basques know it.
Strawberry – It is far too easy to get real strawberries. And besides, strawberries do not like being made into preserves, as the awkward (almost subversive) texture they assume under such circumstances will no doubt attest.
Blueberry – No.
Grape – I am not interested in grape jam, and neither should you be. In fact, it does not even exist.
Almond Butter – Ok, this is not so much a jelly or jam, as it is rocket fuel. With almond butter, surely a little bit goes quite a long way. Longer than you are thinking even now, unless you are thinking Mars.

From The Guide:

After one has scooped of the jam for the final time in the sitting, it is permissible, if alone or with close friends, to lick the knife. This is one of the reasons for which it is advantageous to use a proper butter knife, and not the standard dinner knife. Although more like to be within reach, the standard dinner knife tends to have, as a vestige of an earlier era, a faint suggestion of a serrated edge. It is better to lick a butter knife.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Bread, Butter and Jam

Bread, butter and jam have always shared a complex and important relationship with one another.

From The Guide:

Once a bread of the proper distinction is secured, it is recommended to try all three possible combinations of bread, butter and jam assemblage. Naturally, it is assumed one has already tasted of just the bread alone, back in the beginning of this adventure, and that this is how one came to know it was of the proper caliber, and worth bringing home at all. First, one should try the bread with only butter. Then with only jam. Then try all three bread, butter and jam together. Pay close attention to how each functions both alone and in concert. You should conclude that bread alone, bread with butter, and bread, butter and jam together are all winning strategies. You should recognize too that bread and jam alone is the most irksome combination. Why should bread with jam be less good than bread alone? It is one of the great unexplained mysteries.*

* Through modern science, we now know the answer: butter acts as a mediator between your delicate taste buds and the astringent, tart qualities of the jam. When you imagine eating bread with jam and butter, you can almost see the smooth little butter particles befriending jam particle before they walk hand-in-hand into your taste buds. Science is beautiful.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Bread and Butter

For butter, you must go to your local gourmet shop and acquire some imported butter. This will be the one with any French or Swiss (or even German) writing on the packaging. Italian is good too. It is recommended to buy the unsalted variety. Salt can always be added. It is important to maintain control over salt. Also, you must look for some indication of an expiration date. The shopkeeper’s job is to move the oldest bars to the front of the shelf (and this goes for milk, yogurt, and anything else that is white or yellow). Yours is to inspect several of them until you are sure you have the freshest one. If none of them are fresh (and assuming you do not have the intention of eating all of the butter immediately), then you must refrain from purchasing any of the butter at this time. You can try another shop or wait until the next shipment arrives. It is important to be patient.

Many people buy several sticks of butter and freeze some of them for later use. This invites a terrible rancid flavor, and for what? Do not freeze the butter. Eat the butter.

Monday, October 1, 2007


The first and most important thing one must do upon moving to any new town is locate the nearest purveyor of good bread. Such discovery is paramount. If you have landed in one of the more fortunate cities, the task could be no more than a pleasant stroll in the afternoon when the autumn sun is out. Walk past some leaves. Falling and spinning. Kick some pebbles down the stone lined path. Where is the bakery? Around the corner? And if it’s not, then a simple query of any well-looking person in the neighborhood will surely yield the necessary information. But in other cities (too numerous to mention), the same endeavor might take the form of a three-year odyssey, filled with all the death and destruction, revenge feelings and all that great sorrow that can be expected of any such goal-driven adventure, in which the goal is never (can never be) attained. If it had been a different goal, perhaps the story would have gone differently. If it had been, say, a jelly donut, or perhaps a Stouffer’s menu item. Even a nice cracker. But not bread. Sadly, your friends cannot help you. When the gods have not smiled in the place where you are there is nothing and no one can help you. This I have learned.

From The Guide:

The key to a good bread and butter experience is good bread and butter. For bread, a strong flavored French loaf/baguette is recommended. The way to know if one has the right bread is whether the top end (the end poking out of the grocer’s bag) is still largely intact by the time your carriage reaches home. If this be the case, then indeed this was not the right bread. But if it has been torn at, repeatedly, as if by a savage and starved creature, with an unexplained, but obvious desire for the highest quality baguette, then truly, this is the right loaf.