Marrow and gin jam with soused herrings

When we were young there were all sorts of myths about what “foreigners” ate… it seemed gross to us as little children that people would eat snails or frogs legs, and as for insects, whether they were covered in chocolate or not, they sounded just too gross. In my travels, I’ve eaten some strange things – or what in Britain is normally thought of as strange, jellyfish, foal, fermented shark… Different food customs rouse strong feelings on both sides – the eaters and those who are repulsed and outraged even, think of whales, or dogs, for example.

I once met some french people who told me they had been severed a very peculiar ‘typically English’ breakfast dish of kippers and marmalade… I presumed they had been served the kippers and as there was a dish of marmalade on the table they had thought it was a condiment for the fish… but maybe not!

In ‘jams, jellies and preserves’ by Ethelind Fearon, she offers suggestions of all sorts of unusual things to eat accompanied by fruit jams, jellies and preserves, and there it is ‘marmalade with kippers’!

Her list of suggestions starts off quite conventionally, and there are some really delicious sounding combinations… but there are also some strange ones too:

  • barberry jam with rice pudding or blancmange (barberries are the fruit of the berberis – and popular in Iranian cooking apparently)
  • plum, walnut and raisin jam, or fig and carrot jam with curry (could work as a variation on the usual mango chutney)
  • lime and pineapple jam with wild or not wild duck
  • green tomato jam in a cheese sandwich
  • barberry jam with turkey
  • marmalade with apple pie
  • green gooseberry fool with mackerel (gooseberries yes, but a fool? Really?)
  • peach marmalade with mutton (in my book marmalade is made with oranges, anything else is a jam)
  • rose petal jam with yoghourt (this book was published in 1953, yet another instance where people in Britain were eating things supposedly only ‘discovered’ in the 1970’s)
  • parsley jelly with boiled cod or poultry
  • spiced blackberry jelly with grilled cod
  • marrow and gin jam with cold beef or soused herrings (… and gin?! Gosh!)
  • mint jelly or mulberry and apple jam with cold mutton
  • damson cheese with hot boiled ham (cheese in this instance is like a curd, made with butter and eggs and fruit)
  • rose-hip jelly with jugged hare
  • rowan or apple jelly with rabbit or pork
  • a spoonful of orange marmalade mixed with half its quantity of chopped green mint with young lamb
  • marmalade with bacon or kippers
  • crab apple with venison

Marrow jam with gin

  • 1 ripe yellow marrow, cubed
  • an equal amount of sugar
  • 2 oz ground ginger
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 lemons – rind cut thin and juice for each 4 lbs of marrow
  • 1 wineglass of gin for each lb of marrow
  1. cover the marrow with the sugar and leave for two days
  2. put the marrow, juice and all other ingredients except the gin in pan and simmer until the marrow is transparent and tender
  3. stir in the gin
  4. bottle and seal


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