Thursday, June 17, 2021


Reflecting on products that evoke a time and place, naturally I remembered James Keiller & Sons Dundee Marmalade. Like Frank Coopers Oxford Marmalade (both original and coarse cut), it speaks of a far quieter society. One in which taciturn individuals calmly and thoughtfully started their days, perhaps reading a newspaper which was well-written and a few days old, because it wasn't delivered to the hinterlands till the train had brought it in from a major metropole, and the delivery person dropped it off on the front door step.

The International Herald Tribune, delivered to our house in Valkenswaard. Good marmalade and good tea also had to come in from outside. Good coffee was a given -- the Dutch have always had a fine tooth for that -- but some things were not that common.

Brands with English texts were, unfortunately, often limited to whisky and gin. For people who drank cocktails. Many other products had French on the label. Dutch too, of course.
A few products had Malay words which seemed quite native in that place. Ketjap Manis (thick sweet soy sauce). Trasi udang (shrimp paste). Ketumbar (coriander seeds and powder), djintan (cumin), kunyit (turmeric), lengkuas (galangal). Sambal, of course, because fresh tjabé was at that time not so common. Asem (tamarind paste), temu kuntji (krachai), and others.

A kinder gentler time, with tenuous supply lines and more limited availability of many things. If it could not be found locally, one made it oneself or ordered it by post from England.
Or one made do with something else entirely.

[Nowadays, Taylor's Yorkshire Tea, Lyle's Golden Treacle, and home-made Dundee Cake fill the same roles.]

There's cardamom in my coffee. I did not know what cardamom was till my twenties. Here in SF one finds it at Indian and Middle Eastern stores, because it isn't much used by the locals.
Kapulaga. Elaichi. Elaka. Ha*il.

The Chinese word 豆蔻 ('dau kau') is often mistakenly applied to nutmeg. Which is something else entirely: nootmuskaat (jaya pal, jaya kayi, pala). Jawzat at-tayibi.

Spices and other trade goods.
Very evocative.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

No comments:

Search This Blog


As the big guns roared the smell of thin extruded strandlike explosive material remarkably resembling spaghetti used up till roughly the ins...