As far as I know, no one has yet attempted to make the connection between Film Noir and jam making. That’s where I step in. And yes, there is a connection, Doll, if ya wise up and open your eyes. Okay, I’m admitting that Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett never fully explored the Noir possibilities of home preserving. But that’s only because they didn’t try. First off, I recognize that there are only two great Noir cities in America. Their names are San Francisco and Los Angeles. It’s where you’ll find sufficient fog, shady dames in mink coats, crooked cops, and guns in the glove compartment of every car. I would suggest that Sonoma could serve as the third point of that triangle. Sure, we don’t have slinky gals like Lauren Bacall, but the fur-clad females up here come by their pelts naturally. And with few streetlights, Sonoma is dark enough for a Noir film. Then there’s all that jam making. Yeah Doll, that’s what helps us make the cut.
So it all started, see, when I had more green tomatoes than you’ll find opium smokers in Chinatown (to use Noir lingo). That forced me to figure out some sort of desperate plan. I started canning Green Tomato Chutney and Green Tomato Marmalade — all while watching the Film Noir classics I’d never seen. To misquote Rita Hayworth in Gilda, if I my canning enthusiasm were a ranch, they’d have to call it The Bar None. Somewhere between The Lady from Shanghai, Gilda and The Big Sleep, several dozen pints of preserves got put up. No one got shot and no dames double crossed us, but it could have happened. Anything can happen when you’re Noir Canning.
So we found this recipe here for Green Tomato Marmalade. We chose it because every other recipe called for upwards of 4 hours of cooking. We’d planned to watch some Film Noir while we boiled down our marmalade, but, we didn’t need 4 hours of boiling to make the joint hot. This recipe offered a two hour boil which was enough for two films, what with pauses for the peeling and the slicing and the zesting and the chopping. And reloading our weapon, just in case.
While watching films on a laptop screen isn’t usually the best experience, Film Noir is pretty much all claustrophobic close-ups. So it works well on a small screen in a dark barn. And I’ll tell ya, canning and Noir involve more knives than you’ll find on the Frisco waterfront after dark.
By then Glenn Ford was over his head in that Argentinian casino and was calling for extra muscle. I called in my own tough guy, see.
So how did it all shake out when the shooting — er canning — was done? Well, I learned that, while you need an insanely long cooking time for Green Tomato Marmalade, you have to watch it as carefully as the shady husbands in Lady from Shanghai and Gilda. Because it can only take a minute for the big double-cross. The pot can get too hot and the sugars can caramelize.
Yeah, like a Noir plot, my marmalade didn’t exactly gel, see. I was too wrapped up in the double-crosses upon double-crosses in Gilda, Lady from Shanghai and The Big Sleep. And the lady…I mean the marmalade…wasn’t exactly as sweet as she pretended to be. She was darker and more slippery than she was letting on.
And the marmalade burned to the bottom of the cooking pan as I watched in fascination while Rita Hayworth did her seductive one glove strip tease in Gilda.
Yes, my friends. The Case of the Green Tomato Marmalade wasn’t exactly a success.
NOTE: Seriously, are you judging me for burning the marmalade? I don’t care what your sexual orientation is. Check out Rita Hayworth in the best scene from Gilda and tell me you could keep your eyes on marmalade while she sang this number: