I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at work last night. It was very good. Let me tell you about it.
The raspberries from which the jam was made have been cultivated in a little town in the Dordogne since the days of John the Good (1350-1364), and are known as cour de roi, a tribute to their intense ruby color and plumpness. The berrykeepers permit them to be pollinated only by a certain colony of honeybees, Apis mellifera, that are said to have lived in hives in this area since Roman times. These bees are tended by virgin girls of age 13 or less. The budding of the raspberry bushes and their pollination by these bees every spring is accompanied by an odd and ancient ceremony and dance involving these girls, a maypole, many garlands of flowers, and an adult male who dresses in furs and wears the antlers of a deer on his head. The harvest of the raspberries in August is likewise a local festival time, and the harvesters are blessed at a special mass conducted by the Bishop of Rouen. There are usually many marriages made and babies christened at this time as this is held lucky, and people delay these ceremonies so that they may be held during raspberry harvest festival. Only small quantities of intensely rich raspberry jam are produced, and even less exported. It is sold in the US by a single gourmet shop in Manhattan. This shop has far more customers for this exquisite product than it has jars to sell, and potential customers are screened with a 15 page questionnaire, which assesses the general moral fitness of the consumer; only one in seven potential customers will pass this test, and even so there is a five year waiting list to obtain a jar.
The story of the peanut butter is scarcely less intriguing. In 1650 a slave ship from Guinea foundered in heavy seas off the American coast of what would become Georgia. Those who escaped the shipwreck included Africans intended to become slaves, English sailors and ship's officers, and several English noble families fleeing Cromwell and the Roundheads. All found themselves castaway on the Georgia Sea Islands, storm-swept and remote, warmed by the Gulf Stream, ruggedly beautiful. In this Eden, the castaways were lost to the knowledge of other men for three hundred years. When they were rediscovered in 1930's, it was found that their intermarrying had produced a vigorous race of tawny, fair-eyed and curly-haired people, who spoke an unusual language with the grammar and syntax of Elizabethan English but most of its vocabulary borrowed from the Wolof and Mandinka languages of Guinea. Their customs are a blend of English and African. The ship had been carrying peanut plants from South America, and these became a major part of their diet, being incorporated into a variety of foods. The peanut butter they make is legendary among gourmets the world over, but few have tasted it, because is is rare in and high demand. I consider myself fortunate to have obtained a jar: it was a present from the Ambassador of Guinea (which has developed close cultural ties with the Sea Island people), in appreciation for my role in helping foil the attempted kidnapping of his daughter.
Okay, I'm just playin' with ya. It was actually just Smucker's raspberry jam and Smucker's Natural peanut butter. Still, it was pretty good!
|Bottom radical is 'heart/feelings' (心), top radical is 'not' (非), acting phonetically to express 'sad', and perhaps also lending a connotation of 'splitting open'. Thus, 'sad feelings which rend the heart'. Henshall suggests as a mnemonic: 'Broken heart does not want to be sad.'|