THE PLUM ON JACK’S THUMB

THE PLUM ON JACK’S THUMB

Hollywood has been retelling a few children’s stories and fairy tales. Writers and their studios have given these much-loved fables a contemporary update, and in the modernising have injected adult-appropriate drama and darker themes in their storytelling. I suppose that makes them more marketable to present audiences. Disney’s Maleficient (2014) is based on Sleeping Beauty, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and Warriors Of Witchcraft (both 2013) make the original gingerbread cottage look like a lame and too-sweet dessert, and it’s Snow White And The Huntsman (2012) instead of my childhood’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves harmonising “Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho…” This year’s The Huntsman: Winter’s War, a Snow White spin-off, doesn’t even reference poor Snowy, her plot’s become irrelevant. Would I watch it? Yes, it should be exciting!

 

Frankly, I wasn’t thinking of movies at first. I was thinking of plums. And that’s because here at Sofresh, we deliver a lot of plums to our clients, especially the cruise ships. They consume a lot of plums on their voyages, and so always order a lot of the fruit from us. And plums made me recollect a childhood rhyme, the one that goes: Little Jack Horner, Sat in the corner, Eating a Christmas pie; He put in his thumb, And pulled out a plum, And said “What a good boy am I!” And this rhyme was strange enough to make me think of those movies I mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Odd, circular thinking, I know.

 

I’d always wondered what that strange rhyme meant. Earliest references to it date to 1725 in England as a ballad by a Henry Carey, which he wrote as a satirical stab at a fellow writer. And since then, the rhyme has mostly been used in satirical association to prominent persons having dubious intentions, politicians, wars and so on. Even American rock band Extreme got in on it, in their song Li’l Jack Horny (1990) which cast several children’s tales’ characters in bad predicaments.

 

What’s all this got to do with the plum on Jack’s thumb? Other than a vague reference to lead mines – plum being a pun on the latin plumbum for lead – during what seemed a Church property scandal during King Henry VIII’s reign in England and the satire piece written about it, I’m not sure and it probably doesn’t matter now. I did find some useful facts about plums, which I’ll share.

 

Plums are in the same family of fruit as peach, nectarine and also the almond. They are considered a stone fruit as they have a pit, or stone, surrounding their seed. Plums come in a variety of colours from deep yellowish to purplish, and ripe plums have a nice firm texture with juicy, sweet-tasting flesh. A plum packs a good amount of nutrition, providing vitamin C (8%DV), vitamin K (5%DV), copper (4%DV), fibre (4%DV) and potassium (3%DV), where %DV is the amount of that nurtrient our body needs each day. Mathematically, a plum is pretty neat: you just need to multiple the %DV by the number of plums you eat each day. And plums are a handy size as well where two or three can be easily eaten at a go.

 

Research has found that plums have high phenols content. The function of phenols as antioxidants is well-established, and they provide significant protection for our cells against would-be damage caused by free radicals. Another research finding is that plums (and prunes, ie. dried plums) increase the absorption of the essential mineral iron by our bodies, and this is possibly related to plums being a very good source of vitamin C.

 

Vitamin C is important to us for maintaining a strong immune system, as well as our body’s ability to replenish itself with healthy tissues and slow down the wear-and-tear that comes with aging and exertion. Vitamin C is also known to be able to help people suffering from atherosclerosis, asthma attacks, osteoarthritis, rheumotoid arthritis, and reducing the risks of the more dreaded colon cancer, heart disease and stroke.

 

The soluble fibre in plums (and prunes) is well-known to act against constipation. By helping to keep blood sugar levels normal and increasing insulin sensitivity, the soluble fibre could possibly contribute to the prevention and treatment of type-2 diabetes. Research also suggests that soluble fibre can help keep cholesterol levels down, and provide protection to our intestinal tract against pathogenic (ie. disease-causing) bacteria.

 

This is timely: it was reported just yesterday that our country’s health ministry had “declared war” on diabetes. This disease has not only cost many people much suffering, financial strain and inconvenience to their lives, it was also reported to cost the nation $1 billion per year. For a start, lay the tables across Singapore with plums, fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, and not just have an annual fruit-and-veggie-day… In an ideal world, eh?

 

Anyway, what all this writing gives me now is a craving for some chilled, sweet, juicy, refreshing plums. Perhaps three of them, sliced into nice wedges, in a nice bowl – a perfect snack to accompany me on my movie journey back in time, to a world of innocence where Snow White dwells happily with the Seven Dwarves, waiting for her Prince Charming; a time before this current Huntsman fellow showed up. Till the next one!

 

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