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Ber-ga-mot from the Turkish ”beg-armade” which means “Lord’s Pear”

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Citrus Bergamia Risso

The bergamots I used in the marmalade recipe were the less photogenic, exceptionally bitter Italian kind (citrus bergamia risso) rather than their sweeter, more fragrant French counterparts (citrons doux). ‘Balmy’ has been a word accurately used to describe the sensation of eating marmalade made exclusively with the Italian bergamotto. The sour, cheek-chewing intensity is always welcome in a marmalade but too much floral bouquet and it’s like eating a jar of Yardley.

The bergamot season is late and short – January to February – and as there are only three fruiting bergamot trees in the whole of southern California you should start chatting up the fine people at Mud Creek Ranch, and get in there before the restaurateurs do. Calabria in Southern Italy is where 80 percent of the world’s bergamot is grown with southern France also a producer, so you may still get lucky if you live in Europe.

This is an interesting one: Monarda fistulosa is an aromatic woodland herb, a member of the mint family, and native to North America. It is called ‘bergamot’ because its scent is very close to that of the bitter citrus but has nothing whatsoever to do with it, and is not the source of the bergamot essential oil used in Earl Grey tea and approximately half of all women’s perfume. The herb is also known as Bee Balm for its ability to attract bees and butterflies. Who knew?

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