Love, Loss, and What I Buy

Nearly lost it in the jam section of Fortnum and

There I was minding my own business, looking at the fanciest jams in London. Would you like your marmalade thick cut? With ginger? Vodka? Champagne? Made from blood oranges? Seville oranges? Or perhaps grapefruit? Seriously, Fortnum and Mason sells more than 25 varieties of marmalade.

But my eye caught on the gooseberry jam and that was IT.


My father-in-law died a year ago this week. He loved hard-to-find gooseberry jam and that became my go-to gift for him; I was always on the lookout for it. And my mother-in-law died just a few weeks before….I’d get her food treats as well. They loved their “goodies”, as they called them. When we lived in Switzerland it was entertainment enough just taking them to the grocery store where they could find their childhood treats.

Elisabeth did love her tea, having escaped Germany to spend the war in England, considered herself an anglophile. “I’d like to go back to London for just one day!” she kept saying the last couple of years, when going anywhere except the couch was no longer an option.

Since she couldn’t go to England, I brought England to her. Getting her a pretty teacup, tea, and a basket of English goodies.

My first trip here in fact was a college graduation gift from them.

When I’m traveling, this is the way I like to shop. Small things that will remind me of a place, or of those I love that I was thinking of them.

And, apparently, I’m not the only one. In the chaos before she headed back, Areta scooted around looking for kippers to bring back to her British husband.

Carrying home fish in your suitcase….now that’s love.

About Karen Ray

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