Of sweet & sour

My hankerings for citrus run to grapefruit and lime, though I do not sneer at lemons. Nor would I discount oranges, though my favourites are the bitter “bigarades” (Seville), and I want the shredded peels to be seen in a marmalade. I should like to put a good word in for the Muslims in this connexion, who first bred the delicious hybrid of Citrus maxima and Citrus reticula in mediaeval Spain, though I’d say they were the frugal Scots of Aberdeen who put the offspring to best use. A salute, too, this morning, to the Hindoos, and their genius for pickling every available variety of citrus, starting with lime. Verily: lime on lime for some of these pickles. That is, slaked lime as a pickling agent for the merry green nimbu (the lime fruit).

Here in the far West our inclinations run more to candied peels, and I raise no objection. Sweet and sour can go deliciously together, and the inhabitants of the Subcontinent have long run the range to both extremes. I mentioned the beautiful coiled jalebi in my Thing column for today (see here); it takes a real man to handle the immoderate Bengali confections, which I take for the sweetest in the world.

As a young man I could gobble jalebi to make myself sick, and some of the old can still do it. I carry the most restorative memory of a visit to a Calcutta sweets stall, with an elderly intellectual of that city who had taken me under his wing. Of the joyful shine in his eyes as he led me to what he believed the sweet stall of stalls in the old “New Market” (that of Sir Stuart Hogg) — exquisite pastries prepared in the finest butter ghee, many decorated with gold and silver foils. Of the sharpness of his elbows as he poked for us a route through the crowd of rival customers. I, for all my youth, could not hope to keep up with him, but like a gull behind a trawler, could prosper in his wake.

Happiness, true material happiness and thanksgiving, is something wonderful to see. God bless the memory of Mr Ghosh, who has surely found the finest sweet shop in Heaven.

But as I hint in my morning Thing, there is also a spiritual dimension to life, which must not be omitted.


My Chief Texas Correspondent leaps naturally upon the result of yesterday’s Ontario provincial election, in which our governing Liberals were annihilated. He sees this as a conventional “shift to the Right,” in Merican party terms, and celebrates it as such.

To which I reply: that the moronic city voters went not Right but over to the NDPee, which promised more spending than even the Liberals could imagine, and various grand new welfare schemes. (They are a zoological garden of various activist nutjobs.) Our outgoing premier’s personal charmlessness factored into the result. The winning Doug Ford is a total clown, and the media will have him for breakfast and snacks, yet for one brief glorious moment the Leftoids are in disarray. Ford is no Trump, though he might be able to match your esteemed President in straightforward vulgarity. He cannot have the fondest clew what he will do with the mess he has inherited, now that he is in power. He will have to betray that half of his constituency to which he promised the opposite of what he pledged to the other half, with unstudied vagueness. His caucus will be crawling with Suburban Saracens and other multicultural eccentrics — not the old solid Tory phalanx of white, Presbo-Methodist, rural hicks. Alas, though the ride may be wild, it won’t be fun to watch.