Friday, 14 December 2018

Not Cloven But Cloves

500 years ago, Raphael painted this picture, known as "The Madonna of the Pinks". These little flowers were a a symbol of marriage, and this is meant to show that the Virgin Mary was both the Mother, and the Bride of Christ [according to the National Gallery's website]
The flowers were particularly popular in Tudor times, and often called "Gillyflowers" [with a hard 'g'] 
The 'clove gillyflower' was Dianthus caryophyllus, introduced from the Turkish court and had a lovely clovey-nutmeg scent, and popular in nosegays. One legend tells how they appeared on earth when Christ carried the cross. As she walked behind Him, the Virgin's tears dropped on the ground and gillyflower-carnations sprang up where they fell - because of this they came to symbolise undying love.
The dried flower bud looks like a nil, and in French is clou de girofle [nail of the gillyflower] from which we get the word clove. With all these biblical associations, it isn't surprising that down the centuries, cloves have become associated with our Christmas feasting. 
But what with teaching, and costumes and Angel blessings, I'm a bit behind this year.
Unlike dear Kirstie, who said in a recent interview that she delegates everything, and pays someone to wrap her presents and decorate her home for her, in this house we just do what Christmas stuff we can when we can [and don't fret if the less important things get overlooked] 
But I was a little alarmed on Monday evening to see two oranges looking a little tired and neglected in the fruit bowl. I checked my spice rack. Yes, I had a jar of cloves. But they had  made the journey from Leicestershire almost 4 years ago, and were three years out of date. 
Oops! I wasn't sure if they'd be much good in my cooking, but whilst Bob was out, I sat in front of the TV and made a couple of pomanders. Cloves, fruit, pins, and riubbon from the great Stash. All very Tudor** and beautifully scented. He remarked on the lovely citrussy/clovey perfume when he came home. 
Top tips; 

  1. Mark where the ribbon will go with a bit of string or cheap parcel ribbon - you don't want to get orange juice or clove dust staining the fancy trimmings. This makes it easier to decide where to stud the fruit.
  2. Make holes with a pin, it is easier to push the cloves into a hole than force them directly through the skin.
  3. Make random patterns- or cover the whole fruit with cloves- but remember the fruit will shrink as it dries out. I prefer to leave the golden peel showing through a little.
  4. Hang from a loop, display in a bowl, or put them on the mantlepiece
  5. After Christmas, they will go on scenting the room for quite a while
** I am reading a superb book set in Tudor times at the minute. I'll review it when I finish.

1 comment:

  1. Kirstie never fails !!
    I made pomanders years ago with a class of children, and still have one with a little scent left.


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