A Policeman's Dessert Pleases RosemaryWednesday, April 15, 2009
Mermelada.(Del port. marmelada).
1. f. Conserva de membrillos o de otras frutas, con miel o azúcar.
Membrillo. (Del lat. melimēlum, manzana dulce, y este del gr. μελίμηλον).
1. m. Méx. Pasta dulce o carne hecha de frutas como membrillo, durazno, guayaba, etc.
Diccionario de la Real Academia Española (RAE).
We know that the English love their marmalade and that the best is made from Seville oranges that are brought by ship from Spain. In English marmalade is always made from oranges and not as frequently from lemons.
In Spanish it all changes. Mermelada is jam made from any fruit and jelly is jalea. The Portuguese beg to differ since for them marmelada is quince paste, period and forget oranges and any other fruit! The story is that Greeks and the Romans brought quince plants (from the rose family) from the middle east to Spain. Portugal did not exist at that time so the argument between the Spaniards and the Portuguese as to who invented jellied quince jam is no contest. Quince is high in pectin and with equal amounts of sugar (or honey) and cooked quince the result is a conserva or preserve that does not neet to be refrigerated. Wherever the Spaniards and the Portuguese went in their travels of exploration to the New World or around Africa to the East they brought their quince jam recipe. Another favourite is to make it from guayaba (guavas in English). In Mexico they make ate (as the Mexicans call jellied fruit) not only from membrillo (quince) guayaba but also from apples, strawberries and mangoes (my personal favourite). Mexicans insist that to make proper ate de membrillo one must use a copper pot. I have not been able to corroborate this yet.
Only Argentines seem to make a dulce from sweet potato or yam. It's called dulce de batata. It is extremely sweet and only an Argentine can possibly stomach it. Another variation dulce de batata con chocolate where the sweet potato is layered with jellied chocolate is even sweeter!
In brief dulce de membrillo (Spain, Argentina and most of South America) is called ate de membrillo in Mexico. In most of these countries the sweet is served as a dessert with some sort of white cheese. A little finger sandwich is made with the cheese and the quince paste. It is almost a ritual dessert in Argentina. It is called el postre de vigilante or the policeman's dessert because he (I have yet to see an Argentine policewoman on a beat in Buenos Aires) the cop can eat it parado or standing up and he can wolf it down if he has to leave for an emergency. In Argentina the cheese of choice is called queso fresco which is a cow's milk cheese that is not aged. In Mexico they like to use Queso Chihuahua which is similar to a mild white cheddar.
|George W. Hayward, far right, Buenos Aires 1965|
For reasons that escape me Rosemary likes "dulce" (you need not add the words membrillo and cheese, it is understood!) as if she were an Argentine. She was out to a Master Gardener meeting last night and when she returned I surprised her with her favourite dessert. My grandmother, Lolita, liked her dulce and cheese dunked into her morning coffee or her afternoon hot chocolate.