Jam Quest

All the sweetness of sugar, with a hint of fruit

What started as a quest for 70% fruit jam ended with me hopelessly lost and asking a gas station attendant for directions to the Nile.

When I first came to Egypt, I had a peasant’s understanding of the world and was content eating jam that was merely tasty and cheap. To me, jam was just a colder and more gelatinous form of candy that happened to contain the occasional hunk of fruit. However, here in Cairo I encountered people who subscribed to a different jam-philosophy. Oddly, they believed that jam should taste like fruit, not sugar. I heard the term “fruit percentage” for the first time as they sneered at jams that consisted mostly of artificial coloring and sugar.

Because of them, I was forced to try a jam that contained 60% fruit. It was a strange experience. My taste buds, accustomed to being blasted and then numbed by the sweetness, instead found themselves underwhelmed.

I enjoyed it on an intellectual level, but my ignorance had not yet been beaten out of me and I  wanted my sugar jelly back. However, something strange had happened to me. I had been afflicted with the sugar-guilt. Now when I went to the supermarket, I secretly craved the cheap, facemeltingly sweet jams, but the sugar guilt haunted me and I purchased the sixty percent instead. I thought maybe the reason I didn’t love it as much as my friends was that there wasn’t enough fruit. Perhaps if I tried a jam with more fruit, I would see the wisdom of jam snobbery.

I had heard rumors of Mom’s jam: a 70% wonder found only at a place called Dina Farms. Months ago I had seen this store, and after spending too much time inside one day I decided to go on a jam hunt, relying only on my memory and my innate directional instinct. I set out confidently and within ten minutes found myself completely lost on the edge of what seemed to be a forest in the middle of Cairo. “Where did this come from?” I wondered.

Then I thought to myself, “The Nile. I must make towards the Nile. I will use its mother banks to as a great trail of breadcrumbs.”  I happened upon a gas station attendant and asked him where the Nile was. Confused at my apparent confusion, he asked me where I was trying to go and I said resolutely:  “I want to go towards the Nile” He pointed me in the right direction and soon I saw the glimmering waters in front of me. I was happy to be on my way home, albeit jamless.

Later on, I considered how ridiculous it was that I had just used a 4130 mile long river as a landmark to find my 2 person apartment. I imagined my reaction if a bedraggled tourist in downtown Oklahoma City asked me where the Rocky Mountains are and decided sometime’s it’s better just to leave such matters be.

P.S. Vote for Belle at Educlaytion’s March Movie Madness. She’s up against Atticus Finch, and let’s be honest here…she deserves to beat that sucker.

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30 thoughts on “Jam Quest

  1. wanderlust misfit says:

    Well I’ve learned a few things, that jam is also sometimes made with real fruit. — That’s a statement only an American would make, the rest of the world gets things right.

    • edrevets says:

      I know, right. Who would have thought there’d be fruit in jam? Americans would get along just fine in Egypt, where tea isn’t tea unless it’s 50% sugar.

  2. jensine says:

    I love jam … make it myself … but yes it has to be sweet BUT fruity too, my sugar guilt leads me often astray … why did I buy rye bread again?

  3. Steven Wantz says:

    I have to compliment your ability to take seemingly any topic and turn it into something interesting and enjoyable to read. I never thought I would actually enjoy reading about the intricacies of someone’s journey to find just the right jam, but alas, here I am. Good Post! Keep it up!

    • edrevets says:

      Thanks a lot, Steven!

      I have to admit that I’ve told my share of bad stories. The good thing about blogging is that they can all be edited. The blogosphere should be thankful for that.

  4. ceypeyun says:

    Never thought shopping for jam could be so tedious. At least you found the Nile. 😉

  5. Dear E, I have to admit that my late night trysts to the kitchen have yielded many a good PB&J sandwich, along with a glass of (dare I say) almond milk. I prefer though, not to use regular PB, but my local health food store has a room in the back where you can make your own organic almond butter. You can also get organic peanut butter made if you prefer. It is actually very good, no sugar, no salt, just pure peanut taste. And I have to side with tomwisk on the blueberry thing, anything with blueberries in my favorite. And thanks, I didn’t think it was possible to find anything funny to laugh about when it comes to PB&J.

  6. Grainne says:

    That was hilarious! I’m so sorry you didn’t find your jam.

    I often buy fresh fruit and blend it into store bought jam to make it chunkier. Might work in your case as well….just blend it smooth. 🙂

  7. livingwithpisces says:

    It is like homemade snack mix versus Gardetto’s or Chex Mix in packages. Sure it’s good, but where, for the love of God, is the MSG?

  8. Maybe not in Cairo, but trust me when I say that we’ve all been there…

  9. minlit says:

    It might be easier just to make jam. Seriously. Fruit. Sugar. Water. Boil. I would say you can’t go wrong, but I would be lying. Also it feels like I should try to make a joke about denial round about now. Best not.

    • edrevets says:

      At first I was like, what does denial have to do with anything, but then I was like, oh. The Nile. Ha. Okay now I’m actually laughing.

      • minlit says:

        Yes, I have to apologies for that. I’m afraid my blog circle is well used to my inability to keep my puns under control. Sad thing is, I do it professionally too….

  10. Denial of your jam addiction.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  11. Ah yes, the quest for jam. Truely, a nobler quest has never been attempted.
    Now, onward! We shalt find the holy Nutella, or die trying!

  12. In all of my years I have never given so muich thought to a glass jar of jam. Maybe because I prefer jelly over jam, which of course is a totally seperate blog post, right?

    Mr. Bricks

  13. tomwisk says:

    I search for a proper jam for my nightly PB&J. My local supermarket carries Trappist Preserves. The blueberry is killer. With the organic PB it makes the treat a perfect capper to a day. I’d go to Cairo for perfect hummus, but that’s another story.

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