The Divine Italian is back from six days in London. I am so proud of him because after 13 years of marriage, he has finally realized how to guarantee himself a stress-free homecoming: Bring preserves.
If you have read my previous post on jam, you will know exactly how I felt when he opened his suitcase and pulled out these.
Five jars of Fortnum and Mason sweet jelly. Can you hear the angels singing?
First up was Lavender Jelly, "ideal for serving with shortbread or as an alternative to mint jelly with roast lamb." (Descriptions are from the F&M website, which I have practically memorized.)
Then came Rose Geranium Jelly, "an inspiring alternative to icing on cupcakes and surprising as a natural sweetener in homemade smoothies."
Then Pomegranate Jelly, recommended with marinated duck so that "it acquires just the right degree of sticky crispness. Or for pudding paradise, drizzle it over your favorite ice cream."
Then Violet Jelly, "for a sophisticated Victoria sponge, or scones and clotted cream."
And last but not least, Fortmason Jelly, a distinctive blend which "adds joy to fig and almond tarts and is also jolly good on pancakes."
I didn't know where to begin. On one hand, I wanted to pull an Augustus Gloop and greedily plunge my finger into each one. On the other hand, once opened, the jellies would have to be refrigerated. Considering the fact that our fridge was already bursting with preserves, I realized that adding five more to the shelves would not be an appealing prospect for my husband.
So I thought. And I thought. And after racking my brains and massaging my temples in an earnest attempt to think rationally, I decided to open just one jar.
I chose Lavender.
I gently unscrewed the top until I heard a heart-quickening pop that signalled the pressure seal had been broken.
There was no going back now.
I took off the lid and peered inside. There, floating in a heavenly suspension, were actual lavender flowers. I don't believe in paranormal phenomena, but I swear a shaft of light hit the jar at just that moment. (Cue angels.)
I took a tiny spoon and lifted a tiny spoonful to my mouth.
The effect was instantaneous. I was no longer in my kitchen. I was running through an endless field of purple flowers. I was encircled by a fragrant Provençal wind. I was cocooned in sweet sophistication. I was in la vie bohéme.
"Mom! Daddy wants to know if you're coming in the pool with us."
I carefully replaced the lid and carried it over to the refrigerator, giving it pride of place on the top shelf.
It would wait for me. And after I had exhausted its supply of pectinous magic, there were four others patiently waiting in the wings. Oh, but for life's small thrills.