“You are all younger than me. If you retired, you should look for something that you are passionate about. You can walk your dog, look at the stars, grow tomatoes, play Sudoku… but just make sure you are interested in something because you’ll live a happier life.” This is the sentence that Georgina Regas, founder and partner of El Museu de la Confitura (the Jam Museum), normally finishes with in her speeches to the seniors. She had a frenetic life, living a war, spending several years in the UK and Austria, and working with her brother Oriol in Boccaccio, the epicenter of the “Gauche Divine” in Barcelona. Georgina was not willing to let time pass her by sitting on the couch. She welcomed us to her Museum in Torrent (Emporda), which just celebrated its 10-year anniversary.
What is the Museu de la Confitura?
The museum is a place where we try to share what we know as well as to continue learning. I’ve learned a lot from the people that visit us. The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know. Nowadays, you can get information from many channels but I believe it is important that people get reliable information. We are very open and we share everything we’ve learned.
Why did you decide to open a jam museum in Torrent?
When I retired, I was living here in Torrent and I was thinking about what I should do next. When you retire it feels like everything is finished. The government issues you an indefinite ID and you don’t need to worry about anything. At the beginning I liked the idea, but then I thought about it and I got angry. I realized they no longer care for people like me. One day I was travelling through the south of France and I passed by Biarritz. It was there that I saw a small chocolate museum that caught my attention. I thought to myself, “if there is a chocolate museum, there could be a jam museum as well.”
How did you start making jams?
I worked in hospitality for several years. We bought a house in Torrent that had a lemon tree. It produced so many lemons that I didn’t know what to do with them. At that time, I had written several cookbooks but I had never made jams. One day, an English friend suggested making a lemon jam. She gave me a recipe and that´s when everything started. I was impressed by the transformation of putting lemon and sugar together and getting something completely different. I started my research on making jam by buying books and searching for people to learn from.
You have made more than 200 different flavors: from pear with licorice to beet with balsamic vinegar jam. What is the inspiration for developing so many different combinations of fruits and vegetables?
Picasso said that you get inspired when you are working. I would not be able to create a new recipe if I stayed at home on the couch. We are always learning and trying new recipes. Everything is possible by using some common sense and a little bit of experimentation. Besides, nowadays we can make things that were not possible before. We need to thank Ferran Adria since he opened the doors for everyone to experiment and try new things. I agree when he says that not everything is valid but that anything is possible. He is a person I admire and he has always been an inspiration for me.
You have collaborated with Alicia Foundation where Ferran Adria actively participates. What was your work in the Foundation?
Pere Castells, from Alicia Foundation, taught me what jam is. I knew the basis but Pere taught me the scientific side of it. He explained the magic triangle and developed the periodic table in which we classify all the jams we make. Besides, we’ve given many workshops together. He explains the science and I talk about the tradition.
Could you explain us what the magic triangle of jams is?
The three elements that make up the triangle (sugar, pectin and acidity) need to be balanced. If you combine these three components right, you’ll get a well-made jam. We look for this balance naturally by adding fruits such as Golden apple, which brings pectin and doesn’t modify the taste, or lemon, which brings acidity while enhancing the fruit flavor. This one also acts as a preservative and an antioxidant. At the same time, it’s very important to balance the quantities of fruit and sugar, as well as the right cooking times.
“I always say we have some unusual benefits that are very fulfilling. This helps me feel and act younger with much more of an open-minded approach.”
Where does your raw material come from? Do you have a philosophy towards sourcing?
I used to be the president of Slow Food Empordà and I share their beliefs. They are that the food must be fair, it must be clean and must have a good flavor. We try to buy directly from the farmers that are nearby. This way we get the freshest seasonal fruit that is available. We believe that fruit picked straight from the tree tastes better. Eating cherries from Chile in January is not natural for me. It doesn´t make sense. Why should we eat cherries at Christmas from Chile when we will have our own by the end of spring? I believe it’s our responsibility to support our local products. Not because it is better or worse, but because we live here and we should support our neighbors.
What’s the favorite moment of your job?
I enjoy what I do. More importantly, I have created a place where I hope people will enjoy working. I always say we have some unusual benefits that are very fulfilling. For example, the simple fact that regular clients are interested in our new jams, or that a man comes back after a year to buy a specific marmalade that he loved is also very rewarding. This helps me feel and act younger with much more of an open-minded approach.
Museu de la Confitura
Plaça Major. 17123 Torrent (Girona)