Contraband Jam


When I was in Ireland, specifically on Inchydoney Island in West Cork, my friend Karen urged me to buy some preserves.

“You have to,” she said. “It’s the best raspberry jam ever.”

She was right. It was criminally good. The smell? Rich and pure raspberry. It tasted heavenly sweet.

Apparently, berries thrive in locales with cool temperatures and lots of light, and Ireland has that in spades in summer. (Similar conditions exist elsewhere. Years ago I ate the best strawberries ever on the island of Askøy, Norway. But I digress.)

In February I left Ireland with a jar of Inchydoney jam in my suitcase. But foolishly, I stowed it in my carry-on, and airport security spied it through x-ray. “Sorry, miss,” the security officer said. Like a surgeon extracting an organ, he reached into the belly of my bag and plucked out the jar.

Damn, I thought. Well, at least he called me miss, not ma’am.

Never mind. Karen successfully mailed me another jar, buffered by clothing. I cherished it, eating the jam sparingly. When it was all gone, I kept the jar in the fridge.

And sniffed it periodically. Like an exotic perfume.

Karen thought my jar-sniffing was weird, so on her next trip to West Cork, she bought me two more jars. This time, she mailed them wrapped in a dish towel. Later, she mentioned that the postman told her she was crazy — the postal service camera would catch the jam and confiscate the whole package.

But he was wrong. The contraband jam slipped the system. Two pristine jars of goodness.

So I’m back to eating — not sniffing — for now.