Undaunted by the inarguably silly reputation that comes with working solely with colorful gelatin, the duo of Bompas & Parr boldly dedicated their careers to blazing new culinary trails with their innovative jelly concoctions. In “Jellymongers,” they spell out their quest. Here’s an excerpt.
The life of a jellymonger is wobbly, largely ridiculous, and often downright weird. If it’s not strange enough explaining to people what a jellymonger is, it’s even stranger describing what else we do with food and how we really do make a living selling jelly.
The jelly business started when we tried to set up a stall at Borough Market in London in the summer of 2007. They weren’t interested but we managed to pull in a couple of jobs making fresh fruit jellies for parties. No one was making jello, so there was an obvious gap in the market. Our inspiration came from two sources; childhood nostalgia and the knowledge that England used to be famous in the culinary world for two things — jelly and roasting. Jelly had somehow taken a serious tumble in the nation’s affections. After the Sunday Times included us in an article about the renaissance of traditional English food, business took off dramatically.
More in books
If you think that jelly starts and ends with the lurid stuff you get at children’s parties, then you’ve got a lot to learn. Jelly has a long, illustrious history. We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into until we started studying old cookbooks. Jelly used to be one of the noblest things you could eat at a meal. Forget making jelly with champagne: jelly used to be made with gold. Even Henry VIII was a fan, requesting it to grace his banqueting tables on state occasions. Victorian England was jelly’s heyday: embarrassed French chefs even came on secret pilgrimages across the channel to get jelly tips and pick up exquisite molds.
We are working hard to restore jelly to its culinary throne. With this book, we’ve been given the opportunity to tell you everything we know about it. The best thing about jelly is that, with decent instructions, it’s really easy to make and the results are spectacular. Jelly is magical: it has the ability to make people laugh hysterically, is loaded with nostalgia, and best of all, can taste wild. OK, we’re not giving a sermon here, but you get the idea: jelly rocks.
From “Jellymongers” by Sam Bompas and Harry Parr. Copyright © 2011. Reprinted by permission of Sterling Epicure.
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive