There are some things relating to food that stick in my mind more than they ought to. For no particular reason, I’ll have a quiet little obsession about certain things that I can usually trace back many years. Nachos, for example. I remember the exact spot where I was introduced to it, and by whom (thanks, Doug!). I now order it almost every time I go to a certain family-friendly restaurant chain (which, admittedly, is almost never these days. Alas. It would probably be churlish to mention that it’s just about the only edible thing in the restaurant, so I’ll avoid doing that.)
Lemon Curd is another one. I’m slightly less specific on the details (I was a fair bit younger), but I remember the size and shape of the bottle that was given to my mother as a gift, the shelf it was stored on in the fridge, and the wonderful, creamy texture and tarty taste. Like a lemon meringue pie without the meringue. Delicious.
However, I don’t recall having it again for many years after that. It became something that, when I happened upon it, I devoured it eagerly. But I never thought to seek it out actively, to hunt it down, and track its source, and secure a steady supply. We just didn’t have that kind of relationship. I feel almost ashamed to say this, but it was very much like an occasional one-night stand, rather than a good friendship.
But the move to England produced a change in this relationship. The first time I entered Sainsbury’s, there was a bottle of Lemon Curd on the shelf, available for a mere 22p. I didn’t know it at the time, but the act of snapping it up started a steady development in my consumption of curd. Occasionally, we’d pick up a bottle of the higher-class stuff. Having it on toast instead of bread. Mixing it with cream cheese on a crumpet.
But the seminal moment was the discovery that there’s more to curd than lemon. An innocent bottle of Orange Curd found its way home, and was summarily devoured. Then there was the All Butter Raspberry Curd sold at all good English Heritage shops. (I don’t know about you, but putting “All Butter” into the name of just about anything is a sure way of getting my attention.)
More recently, I’ve stumbled across Ginger Curd. And I now have a bottle (and a reliable source) of Blackcurrant Curd in my jam drawer. I haven’t opened the latter just yet, partly because I’m not sure that it can live up to the standards of the Ginger Curd, and partly because it requires a proper ceremony to consummate a relationship with a new type of curd.
One does not simply open a bottle of Blackcurrant Curd.