It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Seville oranges ready for marmalade

Perhaps I exaggerate, but I do like January for marmalade-making time. Sevilles have a short window, and it is now.

My mother-in-law always grumbled (pleasantly grumbling, mind you) about the injustice of having Seville season at the same time as Burns Night. So that when she was supposed to be slicing bitter peel and pressing pith in a muslin bag, she was busy boiling sheep liver and oats in preparation for the requisite haggis. (I’m sure all Scots emigres, but especially those in Canada, can empathise.) She managed, anyhow.

I am not burdened by such preparatory demands – partly a generational thing, I’m sure, and partly because we live in Scotland now, where such celebrations are more muted, generally for tourists, and not really to be encouraged. Also, my wife doesn’t like the smell in the kitchen when sheep innards are on the hob, so if we are making haggis, we trundle to the local butcher.

(One Burns Night, I did turn my hand to making vegetarian haggis – I called it “haggish” or “skinking ware that jaups in luggies“. We had vegetarian friends of Scots descent whom we were trying to entice to our kirk‘s Burns Night. It was a hit, not just with them but with many of the ladies who had been making the proper stuff year after year. Everyone needed a spoonful and determined it guid.)

I was not a marmalade eater until later in life. We didn’t eat it in my house, growing up, and the few times I tried it out anywhere, it seemed too sharp. Until the aforementioned mother-in-law, at the time just my girlfriend’s mum, offered me some of hers. Turns out I just didn’t like storebought marm. I can handle it now, but it still holds not a candle to what I (ou ma belle-mere) can fabricate in the kitchen.

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