Have you ever heard of the word “scrumping”? No? You’re not alone.
As it happens, neither have most of the world’s non-British English speakers, as far as I could find. And when they have, most of them think of a completely different activity than the one in the minds of Brits.
Allow me to explain where I am going…
You see, besides food Aunt Ilana and I have another passion: words. A good thing, because, seeing as our English and Spanish come from different sides of the Atlantic, we basically speak different languages. You know, “separated by a common language” and all that.
One of our pastimes is to find adequate translations for obscure food-related words. Empalagoso (Spanish for sickly-sweet, but with other connotations) is a favorite project of ours. Lately we find another such words: marotear.
Are you confused yet? Good, welcome to our world.
What is “marotear”, or scrumping, for that matter? Let’s start with marotear: marotear is stealing fruits from other people’s trees. It is specifically a semi-urban or suburban activity, one that countless Dominican boys dabbled in back in the days when our cities were much smaller and surrounded by suburban fruit gardens.
Scrumping, as I was kindly informed by Aunt Ilana, means the same thing, but from a British perspective. It is most commonly associated with apples, but can certainly be used for other fruits.
Both are illegal activities, but the kind that were more likely to land you in hot water with your parents than with the police.
But here’s the thing: scrumping, for the most part an unknown word, appears to have a, er… more risqué connotation in the US. Go ahead, look it up, I am not going to tell you. Marotear in the Dominican Republic only has one meaning.
Ok, and all this is apropos of what? Well, I made this tea with scrumped limes. More or less (the trees are on the side of walking paths where we live), but for a proper girl from the 1970s this is the closest I ever got to marotear. Just don’t tell my mom.
By the way, this lovely infusion is the Dominican answer to colds and flu. I am not an expert on the medicinal qualities of these plants (and they do have them), but at least it tastes heavenly and the vapor relieves stuffy noses.
This delicious and bone-warming infusion is used in the Dominican Rep. to alleviate the cold and flu symtoms.
- 1 lime or lemon
- Honey or sugar
- 12 leaves from a lime or lemon tree
- 4 mint leaves
- 8 cups of water
- Wash the leaves.
- In a deep pot (preferably stainless steel) heat the water until it comes to the boil.
- Add the lime and mint leaves and cook over very low heat until the water has reduced to half or has a light green color.
- Remove from the heat and add 1 tablespoon of lime juice
- Remove leaves.
- Sweeten with honey or sugar to taste.
- Serve hot.
Originally published: Jul 7, 2007