Who is this man with my chutney?

September 24, 2011

There are several foods that I eat to excess. Most of them (thankfully?) are fruits. So you can imagine my boundless joy and delight to discover that there were two fruit trees in the backyard of my new apartment. Even better, they were thoroughly underutilized and the air was redolent with the smell of sweet rot. The prune plum tree was fairly well stocked, but the fig tree was out of control. If I so much as jostled the trunk, about a dozen gorgeous green parcels would plop onto the ground spilling out their ruby insides.

Quite honestly, I could have eaten them all there and then, but I knew from experience that winter was coming. So in the interest of self-preservation I made a bit of fig chutney. Based on the pictoral letdown that was chermoula, I will leave the image of fig chutney up to your imagination (or the power of Google image search).

The British adoption of chutney fascinates me. In a cuisine most famous for being bland, chutney stands out as a spicy oasis. Yes, I know that tea is also an Indian export that has assimilated within British culture, but chutney seems much more exotic. I decided that it would be only proper to have one of those East India Tea Company characters over to sample my most recent culinary foray. I would have my chutney with samosas, but he could have his with cheddar if so desired.

Here is my mysterious guest. Why mysterious? Well, Wikipedia informs me that this is a portrait of Major General George Campbell of Inverneill from 1790. However, this just is not possible since George Campbell died in 1882. One imagines that he did not have so fine a mustache at such a young age.

“Would you like some more chutney, Major General?” I asked. I dared not ask, “But who are you really?” Not such a nice thing to say to a guest, especially one born in the East Indies, bedecked with medals, and so clearly suffering from jaundice. I suspect that this is indeed George, and the oil painting is dated inappropriately. Perhaps someone with a better background in art history can let me know?

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2 Responses to “Who is this man with my chutney?”

  1. halenancy said

    I was expecting Major Grey. Was he indeed a true Major? A model of modern major general?

  2. halenancy said

    Ok, so I think you might have the right man in the wrong year, but it could also be someone else.
    Here is a painting of your Major General when he was only a general. He has the same eyes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:General_George_Campbell_of_Inverniell_(married_Susan_Campbell_of_Possil).JPG

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