the contextual life

thoughts without borders

grape jelly and the wall street journal

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the Wall Street Journal‘s New York section is my guilty pleasure. well aware of their war on the New York Times, i feel a moral obligation to support the latter; so when i grabbed the coffee shop’s communal copy i felt sheepish, as if i were someone in a motel parking lot with a mistress.

i can’t help myself; sometimes, right after skimming the New York Times morning headlines,  i go to the WSJ site to see what they’ve written about new york. what would never be covered by any other serious paper, they write about earnestly; or, what would be reported on seriously elsewhere, they cover with sarcasm.

the article that caught my eye last night was a piece about the prevalence of grape jelly in american cuisine. i swear, i thought i was reading The Onion. in fact, i was so amused, i considered recommending it to my coffee-swilling neighbor but in the end, never got the nerve.

here is a brilliant piece on grape jelly:

Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal

The Great Jelly Mystery
by Ralph Gardner Jr.

The universe yields its mysteries only reluctantly, and one of the most disturbing from my point of view is why diners persist, when you ask for jam, on giving grape jelly instead. One of my rituals when I get back from abroad is to indulge in an all-American diner breakfast: scrambled eggs (soft), bacon (crisp), home fries, buttered toast, coffee and (hopefully) fresh orange juice.

The only downer is the preserves. I have nothing against grape jelly, per se. I realize that if I’m after the authentic patriotic experience, nothing says Stars and Stripes and purple mountains majesty like a gellular blue substance almost completely constructed of artificial colors and flavors and preservatives. Indeed, Jan Morris, the Welsh travel writer, once compared grape jelly to capital punishment, “the worst of American civilization, worse than the electric chair.”

I tend to agree, even though I’ve got a sweet tooth. Several in fact, and all with fillings. At this very moment my bedstand boasts—in addition to the TV remote and a pile of books that would make me a better person for reading but that I probably never will—a box of Good & Plenty, the remnants of a bag of jawbreakers purchased at Dylan’s Candy Bar and a box of Argentine jelly candies that I special-order from my brother, who makes frequent trips down there. I believe that candy, as opposed to chocolate, acts as a digestive before bedtime.

So if anybody was to be receptive to grape jelly, you’d think it would be me. It’s just that it doesn’t taste as if it’s made from anything that grows on this planet. “Sweet purple snot” is the way one gentleman, an otherwise cultivated book publisher, put it when I posed the grape-jelly question at a recent dinner party.

full piece here


Written by Gabrielle

September 18, 2010 at 9:53 am

Posted in food

Tagged with , ,

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