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Portugal’s Marmelada Tastes Nothing Like Marmalade (2018) (atlasobscura.com)
107 points by Vigier 51 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 93 comments

Portuguese name for quince is marmelo, hence marmelada.

Also, the husks and pits (what remains) of the quince are used to make a quince jelly, that we call "geleia de marmelo" (a liquid jelly):


In English you have jam and jelly; in Portuguese we have compota which is jam made from fruit pulp, geleia which is liquid jelly with a consistency of jam usually made with the rest of the fruit like husks and/or pits (though the name is also used for other products like bee's royal jelly), and gelatina which is the solidified jelly.

The etymology of the Portugese "marmelo" is clear, from Latin "melimelum", itself from the Greek "μελίμηλον", meaning "sweet apple". The product was famous, so the word was borrowed to sell orange paste, later orange jam.

I already had a glimpse of the story thanks to a chance reading of the etymology of the French "marmelade", but I enjoyed reading the whole story.

https://www.littre.org/definition/marmelade (~1875) / https://www.cnrtl.fr/etymologie/marmelade (~1980)

> meaning "sweet apple"

Funny thing is it's not sweet at all, more like a very bitter apple.

In English we have jam, jelly, preserves, and marmalade. If you’re feeling fancy maybe a berry compote.

In portuguese those would be: compota, geleia, conservas (preserved in sugar syrup) and marmelada. I think compote and jam are the same thing.

> I think compote and jam are the same thing.

Jam is generally eaten with something else, compote can be eaten on its own or be a "base" e.g. you'd spread jam on bread but you'd eat compote with a spoon. Compotes are jams but in effect closer to mashes.

Thanks, I didn't know that. The distinction does not exist in portuguese (my native language). The word for jam is "compota", and I don't know of any portuguese sweet like what you describe as compote.

humm i think actually in portuguese we have: doce, compota, geleia, conserva e marmelada/goiabada.

doce (sweet) is a sugar syrup with fruits normally mashed, this is not preserve this is made to be served. compota (jam) is mashed whole fruits with sugar (pure de frutos). geleia (jelly) is fruit juice jellied or thicken. conserva (preserve/compote) is whole fruits preserved in a sugary syrup. marmelada/goiabada is the same as a compota whit a mashed whole fruits with sugar, but since these 2 fruits create a thick jellied paste, we give it a proper name.

sot he is talking about is a conserva/preserve/compote is all the same thing, its a whole fruits you cant spread that, its for eating or making other things like cakes and such and Portugal has plenty of those as well hehehe :D

We also have compote in English, which is a dessert made from fruit in syrup.

And "conserve".

Nice add! Had to look it up. It’s dried fruits and nuts turned into something “jelly like”.


OT: Ugh, emojis.

We took them out.

Just to add to the cultural variety, in Romania, the eastern end of latin influence, "marmeladă" is one of 3 common kinds of fruit preserves - made by boiling fruits with no or relatively little sugar (maybe 1:10 sugar to fruit) until they harden into a paste. Apricot and plums are the most commonly used fruit for marmelade.

The 2 preserve is "gem" (jam), which is similar, but made with some more sugar (say 4:10 upto 5:10), and ending up as more of a mush than a paste - coincidentally, this is the most common way of preserving quinces.

The third one is "dulceață" (which translates ad literam to "sweetness") which is made with 1:1 sugar to fruit and ends up with whole fruit floating in a fruity sweet colored syrup (sometimes the fruit are dipped in calcium hydroxide before boiling to ensure they stay firm) - usually for strawberries, forest fruit, apricots, even peaches.

We also make a quince jelly called "peltea" (a Turkish word), a clear, stiff, extremely sweet gelatin. This seems to be the exact equivalent of Portuguese marmelada.

And compot. Cut fruits in sugared water.

In my family, compot was always consumed immediately, though I have heard others use it as a preserve as well.

Interesting, in Spain we have _dulce de membrillo_[1] (quince cheese) which seems similar to the Portuguese _marmelada_. And then we also have _mermelada_[2] which is closer to the english marmalade.

[1] https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dulce_de_membrillo [2] https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mermelada

Dulce de membrillo and (Portuguese) mermelada are the same thing. In fact, in Gallego, dulce de membrillo is called marmelo, much closer to the portuguese word for it. In Catalunya it's "codonyat" (the quince itself is called codony in catalan, and codoña in some other parts of Spain).

I always thought that the English "marmalade" and the Spanish "mermelada" had a somewhat shared history, since in both cases, the portuguese meaning is lost and it picked up a similar meaning (jam type preserve). It's probably because the process of creating a jam is quite similar to that of creating a quince cheese, but with different fruits. Perhaps at some point, the word became a description of the technique, and not of the particular ingredients used.

just to complete the collection: in italian marmelade is "marmellata", while quince cheese is "cotognata" (quince being "mela cotogna").

The story here in Scotland is that "marmalade" was invented to make use of a consignment of bitter oranges:


My dad cooked dulce de membrillo every year :-)

When you're boiling quince with sugar you have to keep stirring the paste to stop bubbles from forming. Those damned bubbles burn bad in your hands, so when you start you cannot stop until it all done.

Maybe wear long oven mitts? I do that sometimes when frying foods.

> Related to but larger and more sour than a pear, the quince is inedible raw

Not true, not inedible, and not necessarily sour. They are oddly dryish (think the opposite of a juicy pear) but I like them.

Regarding the blocky confection, you can get it easily in london, in the right place, and I find it offensively sweet. Less sugar and it's be good.

> Less sugar

Probably would not keep. The original idea is that you could store blocks like cheese or ham, without special packaging or refrigeration.

I believe the reason for all the sugar is that bacteria don't "work" above some level of sugariness, and just the natural fructose is far from enough. "No sugar added" stuff has to be properly packaged and will spoil after opening.

(Speaking of cheese, it's good company for 'marmelada'/quince jam, and takes care of the sweetness. Adding a slice of banana is not a bad idea either ...)

Good point. Hadn't considered that.

I was often fighting the worms in autumn to eat quince as a kid, they are more than edible. Quince preserve is one of my favourites, so good!

There are varieties of quinces, and some are much easier to eat than others. In general, raw quince tend to block your throat and is a choking hazard if not careful.

Seconded, in fact this is one of my mom's favorite fruit and I ate a lot of it (raw) growing up. We also have a curious way of eating it, using a spoon to tear off bite-sized pieces, since its flesh is quite hard.

The Portuguese version reminds me of Goiabada from Brazil, made from guavas, which are also hard to eat raw. Must be the Amazon remix.

Ha, just checked and Wikipedia says it is used as a quince substitute.

Guavas are quite commonly eaten raw here in Brazil. Maybe you haven't let them ripen?

Anyway as an amusing side note, as I understand itbin the Northeast of Brazil "marmelada" is idiomatically used to express that the speaker isn't going to be fooled[1], though its usage may have passed out of style right now. I had assumed it had something to do with a distaste for bitter orange marmalade (even though I have seen it for sale in supermarkets here). I guess there could be a story related to the Portuguese quince condiment instead. Hopefully I can find out one day.

[1] learned when asking about the Margareth Menezes song called Marmelada https://youtu.be/LoNMVUaNmeE

How are guavas hard to eat raw??? I've literally lost count of how many guavas I've eaten.

The skin is kinda gross, and there are many small seeds.

Some people who don't like the skin peel them. I don't bother. The seeds likewise aren't a problem for me at all.

Ripe guavas are one of my favourite fruites. Unripe guavas are tart and hard to bite.

Unripe guavas are very popular in South-East Asia, typically served with either dried prune powder (asam boi) or, in Thailand, chilli flakes.

This is also available in Portugal, and it's even better.

So, "Marmelada" and "Marmelade" are different words, and just look similar.

They're basically _faux amis_ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_friend).

They're not different words, as the origin is the same. They're the same word, with a slight semantic shift from one language to the other. And frankly, quince marmelade is not very different, in preparation or use, from other types of marmelade.

A similar case is the Italian "mostarda" vs the English "mustard"- two very different preparations, but both based on mustard seeds.

A real case of culinary false friends is the Spanish "aceite", which means (olive) oil and is derived from an Arabic word, and the Italian "aceto", which means vinegar and comes from Latin "acetum" (related to the English "acid").

It seems that the etymological origin of Marmelade is Marmelada

In portuguese, quince is named marmelo, hence marmelada.

By far, the best way to eat Portuguese marmelada is with goat cheese, tapas style.

Slice both the ultra-sweet marmelada and the salty cheese into squares of the same size, stack them and stick a toothpick through them.

In Brazil, when made with guava paste (goiabada) this same dish is called Romeo & Juliet, one of the best food names ever created.

Latin culture is about taking vegatables and turning them into bricks to be consumed with soft cheese.

>called Romeo & Juliet, one of the best food names ever created

The same format here is called Postre Vigilante "whatchman's dessert")

In Argentina in addition to membrillo there's dulce de batata!

> The quince is inedible raw

What? Says who? It's one of my favorite fruits. I am flabbergasted that someone would claim this.

Replying to all replies,

> Maybe [edibility] depends on the variety? / Isn't raw quince hard as a rock?

quite likely. The beautiful ornamental quince https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaenomeles_japonica is technically edible but hard and sour. You can see the fruits in the middle photo of the link - yellow, size of a large plum, and smell just amazing; really, if you ever get a chance to smell the ripe fruit, do. I understand they can be cooked to make them palatable.

> It's really bitter by fruit standards, more so than cooking apples.

Not bitter but sour (acidic). Anyway, happens I tried a cooking apple recently, am sure they're much less sour than when I was a kid. Anyway, compared to ornamental quince above, the ones you get in middle-eastern shops in london are much larger. Some examples, but not the right colour, can be seen here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quince and are perfectly edible raw and unsugared (edit: size is larger, about the size of a large cooking apple but shaped like a ruby ball)

Yes, exactly. I'm only familiar with the variety that's common in Greece, it's harder than other fruit but not so hard that it's a problem. It's also not bitter, we have a different word for its taste.

It's not as widely popular as other fruits, but I like it a lot and eat it often when it's in season.

I've got a quince bush in my yard... they smell amazing and taste wonderful cooked, but raw they will glue your mouth shut they are so tannic. I'm as flabbergasted as you to learn that there's a variety you can eat raw!

I can't say the ones I like don't glue your mouth shut, but I still love the taste!

Maybe it depends on the variety? I’ve eaten a fair amount of quince, always cooked. I don’t think I would enjoy trying to eat the kind that I’ve bought raw, though it wouldn’t be impossible to get down.

That’s where I was confused as well. I remember eating raw quince and enjoying it. It was harder than an apple, for sure, but it was still enjoyable to eat. It must be that different varieties...

It's really bitter by fruit standards, more so than cooking apples.

There are different varieties. Some are indeed edible raw, but most are unpalatable unless cooked.

Isn't raw quince hard as a rock?

Uh. Now I’m wondering if the stuff we call marmeladi in Finnish is closer to marmelada or marmalade.

It seems like it is closer to the Portuguese stuff, but not that close to either. In Sweden we use the same word for both the orange jam (plus some other kinds of jam) and for the gelatine candy.

Ah, right, we do too (not very surprisingly). Never really thought about the fact that marmelad jam and marmelad candy aren't really that similar, consistency-wise.

Orange preserves or very thick gelatin?

Oh, apparently we overload the word marmeladi to mean both jam-like preserve and thick gelatinous pieces of candy, depending on context.

"In 1524, Henry VIII received a box of “marmaladoo” as a gift from a Mr. Hull of Exeter. Although the name of the treat was glaringly and oddly misspelled on the box..."

Was the concept of 'misspelling' a thing in 1524? The first dictionary hadn't been published yet!

Interesting, I always wondered when visiting the UK, why they have such a similar name for such a distinct product, now I understand.

Also, I pretty much identified about the part of the article where they talk about comparing the colour and consistency. As a child I really didn't like the lighter coloured and/or less consistent marmelada, probably because I was used to the dark orange and heavily consistent one - as done by my family. It doesn't say in the text, but in order to be made consistent, it is left to "dry" at the sun (by a window inside the house) covered only by cellophane paper for several weeks.

So the actual title for the article should be: "UK Marmalade tastes nothing like the original Portuguese Marmelada."

This article is equivalent to: "Spain's Jamon Tastes Nothing Like Jam". It is an apples to oranges comparison caused by translation issue.

The English name for this product name is Quince paste.


Marmelade in German means "jam". Orange marmelade (DE) means marmelade (en). With pronunciation differences 8)

Yes, but only in common usage of the word. As a real technical term it has to be called Konfitüre in Germany, as Bretain actually managed to get protection for the term, even if only they use if to the orange based stuff...

This mandate only applies to business use. I.e. if you advertise for, or label products, you must only use "Marmelade" for the strange british thing.

I don't think I have ever heard the word Konfitüre spoken in daily-life, other on occasions where someone explained why Marmelade is labeld Konfitüre in the supermarket. Maybe this is a bit regional and up north they use that word (?).

So if I was to translate a novel that features a jelly sandwhich I'd confidently translate it with Marmeladebrot.

Apart from that, lot's of dialects have their own term for jelly, like Swabian dialect has Gsälz, and Baden dialect has Schlecksl.

Tangentially, I recently learned about the Austrian insult for (northern) Germans "marmeladinger" (marmelade-eater?). https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marmeladinger

Ironically, the historically more "Austrian" expression "Konfitüre" hast become so rare and "Marmelade" so Common, that many Austrians think the former might be the German term. So the insult is out of fashion too. Piefke would be the go-to nowadays :)

And "Marmelade" to means jam in general.

I don't see the point of this article...

Two things in different languages have similar names. so what?

Portugal's Constipacao isn't English's Constipation

Italy's Carrozza isn't Portuguese's Carroca

Spanish Embarazada isn't English Embarassed...

To add to your examples, in portuguese (and no other language I know of) the word "exquisit" (in portuguese: esquesito) means something odd, awkward. In all other languages it means a delicacy or something really delicious. I'm sure we were the ones to corrupt the meaning, perhaps for the common folk those delicacies were so rare or unattainable that they would be "odd" food.

Other examples would be:

Spanish oficina (office) and Portuguese oficina (workshop).

Spanish largo (long) and Portuguese largo (wide) or even music's largo (slow), although the music one is probably part of most languages by now so it's a matter of semantics.

Spanish asignatura (subject) and Portuguese assinatura (signature).

Spanish carpeta (folder) and English carpet (alfombra).

Spanish librería (bookstore) and English library (biblioteca).

Spanish parientes (relatives) and English parents (padres).

Although they share origins, Italian calzone is not Swedish kalsonger, Swedish husbonde is not English husband.

But but but constipação and constipation are the same thing.

One is a cold The other is well, constipation...

if you say in Portugal you have 'a constipação' you mean you have a cold...

https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constipa%C3%A7%C3%A3o links to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_cold

I see. In Brazil constipação has both meanings, although it's mostly used with the same meaning as the English version.

In Spanish constipado means a cold or having a cold but according to the DRAE constipación de vientre means well… constipation.

Or you could use resfriado which means a cold but also contains the lexical morpheme/root -fri- (frío which means cold) so it might sound nicer and be easier to remember.

Well, I have learnt something new today...

In Portugal it would be Obstipacao or Prisao de Ventre

Because one came from the other?

I mean, in Poland "Marmolada" is exactly like the Portuguese variety, absolutely nothing to do with the British Marmelade.

In Serbia, Croatia and Hungary this is known as kitnikes (pronounced as kit-nee-kez), from German quittenkäse (quince cheese)

Leggaly this Portugese marmelade is now defined as jelly marmalade. The definitions are basically the stuff our grandmas considered one or another.

We also have pekmez, jam, marmelade. Pekmez should have the least added sugar and made out of chunks of whole fruits (mixed) cooked/melted. Jam has a bit more sugar, but I think it should be out of one fruit. Marmalade has more added sugar and can have more less desirable parts as core or pits. Jelly marmalade is just marmalade with more gelatine.

It seems that everyone's grandma had a different theory on this, as I always thought that in Serbian/Croatian the "dzem" (jam) is made of a single fruit, while "marmelada" is mixed fruits :)

might depend on the region, but when I saw it in hungary it was generally called "birsalma sajt" (literally "quince cheese"), e.g. this


The term I mentioned comes from Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans) so it's probably very regional...

Never heard of that word. In dalmatia I did hear about "kotonjada" which resembles cotognata and codonyat, which are mentioned in this thread.

So what's the difference between marmalade and jelly? Is marmalade jelly made of quince?

In the UK, marmalade is almost-always a preserve made from Seville (bitter) oranges. Occasionally lemon or lime, but usually orange.

Jam (jelly in the US) is made in a very similar process, except the fruit used in place of orange/lemon is something a little less-bitter; typically strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, apricot, plum (my favourite).

In the US, a marmalade is a preserve that specifically includes the shredded peel of the fruit, almost always a citrus fruit. [Sweet] orange is most popular, but lemon, lime, grapefruit and mixes are usually available -- and also imported Seville marmalades from England and Scotland.

I'm quite fond of a cherry-orange marmalade from Florida.

There are regional differences in usage, but generally a jelly is made from fruit juices, a jam contains chunks of fruit, and a preserve might be any of those things or contain whole or nearly-whole fruits.

Great know I want some Marmelada, and I have to wait until October :(

Sorry to hijack your post, but I wasn't aware of emojis (flags only?) being available on HN.. there's no mention of them in the guidelines nor FAQ. What are the rules / guidelines on them? Are they (emojis in general) available in comments only or in titles of posts too?

HN is a plain-text site so we basically don't allow those. Software strips some of them out sometimes, but it's not the sort of thing we'd go for a 100% technical solution to. I edited them out of the posts in this thread. Interestingly, I don't think the meaning of any of the comments was affected by doing so.

(We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20776138.)

Emojis are unicode characters like any other, you can use them almost anywhere. I don't believe there are any official rules/guidelines on using them on HN, but they are rare here.

Mine have been filtered out in the paste. They are Rare because they are programmatically filtered. No emoji in here ().

Someone managed to use them in a post below, I just copy-pasted them...

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