|In the kitchen of the Villa Muscato (artist's impression)|
A lesser, or at least less experienced, man would jump to conclusions, imagining a tawdry affair at the very least. Me, I know better. It's the jam, and it's got him bad.
So where's he been? Why, the greenmarket of course, the chaotic and infinitely tempting labyrinth of market stalls and tailgated trucks that's as close as this artificial place comes to being a real, lively, Middle Eastern city (I can only imagine how disappointed the few people who sat through Sex and the City 2 and then show up here as tourists feel, presented with the slab-concrete-and-shopping-mall reality). He comes home weighted down with flats and sacks of various fruits and veg, for all of which he's paid significantly less than the average housewife here pays for a kilo or two of carrots in one of the horrifically overpriced supermarkets.
And this week, it's happened again. The house is steamy, the kitchen is sticky, and the dauntless Mrs. Galapatti-da Silva and I have been cajoled into the role played by the Demon Tots above, half helpers and half drafted admirers. The dogs hang out beneath the kitchen table, alternately seduced by the smell and the occasional dropped dollop of hot syrup and terrified, for reasons unclear, by the low, guttural sound of the jam-to-be on a slow boil.
Now, a tidy row of jars line one cupboard. The current offerings are mango, a staple much in demand by people in the know and the base for Mr. Muscato's Legendary Mango Mousse (which makes strong men weep), along with a new experiment, a strawberry-tomato-clove combo that is, simply put, dynamite. It's basically crack on toast.
I would say that the fever has now subsided, but there is still a suspiciously large quantity of guava in the fridge, and I thought I heard him muttering something about trying out a fig-and-banana mix.
Of course, I really don't mind a bit, not least because Jam Week is frequently a prelude to a siege of baking. If I play my cards right, this could carry us right up to the holidays, just in time for our annual round of experimental turkey roasting. I've always thought waistlines were awfully over-rated...