A version of this piece originally appeared in German in the Slow Food Magazin 04-2017.
As a college student, I ate a lot of green-brown stew. I may have had different plans, but for a while, everything I started cooking ended up as the same sort of undistinguishable concoction. I did not yet have the understanding of how different ingredients behave in the pot, and how I could maintain their distinct textures and flavours. Recipes were of no great help when the stove was lit and all types of things were gurgling here and hissing there, distracting from the instructions in small print in the recipe book – if it wasn’t too late for those already. It was frustrating, because I would have liked to eat something other than greenish mush, something that more closely resembled the appetizing pictures in the cookbooks. If I did indeed cook from a book, because I rarely could actually afford to buy a whole set of ingredients as required by the recipe at the time.
A few Sundays ago, I made my first jam. Orange marmalade to be precise, from untreated Sicilian blood oranges. It took me a few hours, and I had to wash the kitchen floor and myself afterwards because everything got a bit sticky, but I did it. That evening I was sitting on my couch just looking at those glorious five jam jars with their orange-red filling. Proud as if I’d laid an egg.
Since then, I’ve made my own apple sauce and taralli (sort of pretzels), and there’s a box of orange peel in my freezer waiting to be candied. I am a bit surprised myself by my recent domestic adventures. But there is a reason behind all this. What inspired me to the jam-making…well, actually, that’s the point. I was not inspired, I was pushed. By 10kg of beautiful Sicilian oranges sitting in my hallway. My colleague’s brother has an orchard somewhere at the south-eastern corner of Sicily, and she organised a delivery of oranges up to Piemonte, for a good price, but you had to take 10kg minimum. What are you going to do with so many oranges? Marmalade, that’s what. Because you don’t want a single one of them go to waste… Continue reading →