Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Wilkin and Sons of Tiptree

Asked what they would like to see in England, most people mention a castle or an abbey or an otherwise historic site. Not Ernie: he wanted to make a pilgrimage to Tiptree in Essex and the factory of Wilkin and Sons, manufacturers of his favorite Tawny Marmalade. You can’t actually see the jam and marmalade being manufactured: fear of industrial espionage, I suppose. But look how excited Ernie, Brian, Brenda and Lucy were—there was also a jam museum! The museum was, in fact, light and well designed and rather interesting, preserving, so to speak, the history of the Wilkin family and of fruit growing in Essex. There was also a delightful gift shop. We can get a few of the standard varieties of jam and marmalade in Michigan, but we were tempted by some of the more esoteric kinds, such as Apricot & Armagnac, Orange and Malt Whisky. We purchased way too many jars, thinking we could carry them in our carry-on luggage, but the assistant pointed out that they fall under the gel category. Whoever would have thought of marmalade as an offensive weapon?

The tearoom was also worth a visit, and what better way to end the day than with a traditional English cream tea. Scone, clotted cream —and Wilkin’s jam.

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