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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Marmalade On Trial


May 9, 2013
 
It's been a hard week working with the ghost of Jim Henson on the screenplay for Dead Muppet Society Part Two, The Revenge of Fozzie, Walka Walka Walka.

By the way, Elvis says, "Hey."  He's real happy about Twinkies coming back.
I feel like a neglectful parent, but I'm going to have to give you something I wrote back in 2002.  I think I might have eaten too much fruitcake at the time...

Dangerous Intro

What, exactly is the attraction of marmalade? Pieces of orange peel floating in goo. Would plastic or metal filings become delectable if we could just find an appropriate sugary suspension?

 
Lawsuit-proof disclaimer

Personally, I’ve always been fond of Marmalade. My policy has always been to never put down a food product that not only represents such a strong tradition but also has potentially intimidating lawyers representing it. Unfortunately, not all people have a podium from which they might express their views (misguided as they might be). While I have no desire to risk the ill will (lawsuit) of the marmalade industry as a whole, I feel it incumbent upon me to represent the views of the minority. As much as I enjoy marmalade, I still recall asking my mother long ago, “what are these stringy bits?”


Actual Irresponsible Column

Years ago, that great gourmand, Andy Griffith, espoused the philosophy that anything is “good” if accompanied by the proper salted cracker. (It does make you think twice about the quality of Aunt Bea’s cooking)
It’s this sort of thinking, along with Bill Cosby’s assertion that there’s always room for cold gelatinous compounds that, in my opinion, perpetuates marmalade in our society. But how does such a thing get started?

Origins are a fuzzy thing, but I’m willing to guess it went something like this. Sir Francis Drake returns to England after another successful pirating of a Spanish galleon. Among the purloined stores was a supply of oranges. By the time they reach England the oranges have gone bad and the ship’s cook throws them out. An adventurous domestic with missing teeth and uncontrollable red hair (they always look that way in the movies) salvages them from the trash heap and takes them home. She tries one and though it’s rotting, it’s still several degrees better than any food served in England.
Recognizing that these little orange globes are the only things with “taste” she will ever encounter, she preserves every scrap in any way she can think of. Dutifully, recording her recipe (she also invented fruitcake but I think others have dealt sufficiently that treat) she foists it on succeeding generations who in the rush of nostalgia and tradition ignore its overall lack of edibility.

In the final analysis it’s all Sir Francis Drake’s fault. (I was going to blame Sir Walter Raleigh but I figured the tobacco industry has had it pretty rough lately, and he wasn’t known for taking too many Spanish galleons. As a matter of fact, he was pretty much a wimp when it came to ship to ship combat in general. He’d just sit there smoking his pipe and passing the crumpets to Pocahontas.)


Sir Francis Drake, on the other hand, was enthusiastic in arts of murder, mayhem and plunder. The kingdom of Spain pressured Queen Liz 1 to turn him over on countless occasions and to this day, he is banned from all the fashionable Iberian beaches and the Generalisimo Francisco Franco mausoleum gift-shop. Of course Sir Francis has been dead for nearly 400 years so is incapable of obtaining the perfect tan and can haunt the gift-shop whenever he wishes.

It’s just as well that Sir Francis has passed, for if he were alive today he would be subject to the capricious vagaries that is the American Civil Court System. No Dead queen with an inch and a half of cake makeup could protect him from a power so potent that it can take a murderer and make him give up his Heisman trophy.


Sir Francis, do you know why you have been called before this court?”

Well, I spent several years being a pirate. I killed countless Spanish sailors and quite a number of aboriginal people in the bargain. I made pirating fashionable and respectable among the lower strata of English nobility, which ushered in nearly three centuries of murder, mayhem and plunder. (It also did quite a number on the hawking and jousting industries) I also started a number of salacious rumors about Queen Elizabeth which led eventually to tabloid television.”

Gasps and cries of “tabloid television!” echo throughout the courtroom.

We’ll discuss the tabloid television charge at a later date. You’re here to answer for marmalade.”

What’s marmalade?”

A breakfast spread popular with English grandparents and Paddington Bear.”

I’m afraid I don’t understand.”

Try some.” The bailiff, who is actually an aspiring actor, hands Sir Frances a slice of toast with marmalade. He bows to the audience watching on court TV.

Hmm – a bit of flavor here. Like any good Englishman, I’m not used to that. I like the toasted bread idea. I do have one question though.”

Yes, Sir Francis?”

Sir Francis appears as if he’s not certain he wants an answer. “Just what are these stringy bits?”