MP for Gordon Alex Salmond has had just about enough of the Times refusal to pay homage to the Scottish foundations of marmalade making.
He wrote in his Press and Journal column:
“It’s enough to make you choke on your porridge.
The London Times, no less, has been whining about a “surge in Scottish entries” in the World Marmalade Awards in Cumbria in an “offensive” to reclaim the produce as of Scots provenance.
Except marmalade is of Scottish origin, or more accurately it is a piece of Dundee innovation, with Janet Keiller the first to make it commercially with shredded orange peel.
It hardly reassures good international relations that the “top English food historian” who was the source of this underhand press attack on the Scottishness of marmalade turns out to be one of the judges at the Cumbrian awards. No doubt Henry V111 had the 16th century English royal kitchens knock up something sticky in between composing Greensleeves and beheading his wives but that doesn’t cut the butter. To invent something then you have to produce it commercially and marmalade is therefore a legitimate Dundee claim to fame.
In the City of Discovery, the story goes that one James Keiller seized the opportunity of a storm delayed ship to invest economically in lots of bitter Seville oranges which were about to go off. Janet then took the chance to make the first giant batch of marmalade. Whether that particular story is apocryphal or not the key to the commercial production of the preserve was the adding of that crucial rind. The first Dundee marmalade plant was up and running off the toast by 1797, and by the late 19th century it was being shipped all the way to China.
In light of this rather controversial background to the World Marmalade Awards, it should be considered a triumph that Catherine Lawson from Dundee and Anne Reith of Angus won two out of the eight categories. Marmalade is coming home!
The Keiller company were also the first to produce Dundee Cake commercially. At least that name should ensure that there is no bleating and greeting from posh London papers the about the true origins of Dundee cake.