Tuesday, October 27, 2009

001.Hero Orange Bitter Swiss Marmalade

Produced in Lenzburg, Switzerland
Distributed in Canajoharie, New York, USA

Claim: “Switzerland’s Best”

$2.21, before taxes, for 12 ounces

Ingredients: oranges, sugar, wheat syrup, pectin, citric acid.

Hero comes from the first two letters in each of principals Gustav Henckell and Carl Roth’s last names. (It's a Swiss firm, obviously; the "ch" in the domain name, perhaps not so obviously, stands for
Confoederatio Helvetica, the International Organization for Standardization's tag for Switzerland. So, "CH" on one of those oval, black-and-white window stickers means there's likely a Swiss, or partly Swiss, baby on board.)

In addition to a variety of conserves, salad dressings and baby food (Adapta brand), Hero makes heat-and-eat treats. It’s very proud of its ravioli. “For about 60 years Ravioli have been, and remain, an important and popular food which is appreciated not only by children; it provides a valuable service to households and caterers as it is soon ready for the table with little effort.”

My favorite Hero item is a cereal bar called Corny that comes in five different flavors. Corny contains five grains — barley, oats, spelt, rye and wheat — none of them corn. Favorite, I mean, for the name. I’ve never seen or eaten a Corny.

I bought the marmalade because it was on sale, and because it sort of jumped out on an aisle of Smuckers and such. Plus, it looked like a good product. It isn’t artificially preserved, colored or flavored. There’s a stamp on the lid that could be the expiration date. It reads “E: 11. 20 11”.

Looks are one thing. I was also curious about
how bitter. From Larousse Gastronomique: “The crusaders brought bitter oranges from Palestine into Italy. The Arabs introduced it into Spain and the south of France, as well as into East Africa. Nice has been trading in bitter oranges since 1332.”

I just wish the ingredients said bitter oranges, but the tongue does not lie. What an odd taste, bitter, especially when it comes on the end of a run of sugary fruit. As with a Campari cocktail, the bitter does wonders to prevent the fruit from cloying. Bitter is the check and balance to sweet. Or, as Hero proclaims it:

“What your favourite conserve says about you …

“Whether raspberry, bitter orange or preferably black cherry – what you put on your bread in the morning, at tea time or in the evening says more about you than you think!

“Read about the typical character trains [traits?] of the lovers of different conserves and perhaps you will soon understand more about one or the other moods to which your partner is subject …”

Either way, it made a tasty peanut butter and jelly sandwich, though I suspect it would marry even better with the double-cream d’Affinois sitting in the fridge.

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