Rainforest Plum Jam


PART I (For those of you following along, Part II will be available in approximately fifteen years (anyway, I’m keeping my mud-spattered fingers crossed). I will at the time refresh your memory since I don’t expect you to recall with vivid precision the minute details to follow, and I know all too well that chronic, purblind anticipation can sometimes force the hippocampus to scamper and wind up at a sister campus clear across town–if I may use a metaphor from the dreary world of academia–and spoil the whole thing.

Meanwhile I’m preparing to make my first batch of Rainforest Plum jam (trademark pending). I’ve scrubbed the counter top, lined up my glass jars, little hexagonal affairs with a rounded top, and excitedly ripped open a bag of white sugar, which I do not have in the house, and so you must now be prepared to accept the preposterous notion that this is all a fantasy. And it is. Table sugar! In my house! It’s not that I wouldn’t have a modest quantity of these heavenly grains ( beautifully chiseled by cherubs) somewhere in the unplumbed depths my cupboards–it’s that I never make desserts or jam (the very notion is incompatible with the life of an ascetic). But there’s a first time for everything. However, there are still a few little details to iron out. For instance, the ‘plum’ seeds have not germinated yet; and that small aggravation is easily dwarfed by the fact that I never have held the near-fabled seeds in my grubby hands, and this is further complicated by the embarrassing niggle that I have been unable to locate a vendor that has even heard of the darned things. Still, I persist. Purply-red jam, lip-smacking goodness—isn’t that right, Ariel? Wake me, please.

Eugenia candolleana is the little number I must have. If this is sounding like an obsession, let me assure you that it isn’t. I don’t even know if the fruit would make a fetching jam (though I’ve heard told that copious amounts of sugar can educe jam-like qualities from the most recalcitrant sources). Call it a Hyblean hunch because obsession, in my experience, is a horse of a different color. Purple, probably—if that’s not putting too fine a point on it. And there you see, we have taken a circuitous path back to the delectable, unabashedly purple berry. My God, it is an obsession! But the beauty of those long hours spent in counseling is that tiny trifles, even those with a purplish hue, are stopped from metastasizing into a monstrous, all-consuming haze. Devising incredibly malefic, scarcely feasible plans to deter mice from eating your tiny seedlings (should they germinate) is, and I’m parroting my counselor, not an appropriate way to occupy a botanist’s time (little does she know that most botanist’s have plenty of time on their hands owing to the present state of the economy).

This post is dedicated to the Swiss botanist Augustin Pyramus de Candolle, not so much for being an enterprising botanist (at the very least he was always able to reliably find work) but for having such a great name.



  1. The jam sounds wonderful!


  2. Welcome back!!


  3. Well 15 years – you don’t say. Okay, I’ll mark my calendar because I know that Rainbow Plum Jam will be flowing and Ariel, well she’ll be in her glory! Great to have you back ~


  4. Great fantasy. IF it is a fantasy!!! Exquisite writing as always!


  5. My mother used to make a plum parfait dessert, so I know of this purply-red “lip-smacking goodness” of which you speak. So somewhere, someone else must be making another incarnation of “rainforest plum jam.”


  6. en attendant, il y a peut être encore des prunes au supermarché, juste pour une premier pot ! c’est tellement bon


  7. so is Ariel here licking her lips in anticipation, or because she, clearly mischievous, is thrilled to have waken you up and thus interrupted your fantasy? 🙂

    this is so great, i can’t stop laughing (do i repeat myself?): “however, that small aggravation is easily dwarfed by the fact that I don’t have the seeds yet” – and about obsessions, now where is that fitting Nabokov-quote, that i am sure you would have enjoyed as much as i? 😛


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