Tuesday, November 10, 2009

005.Oregon Fruit Products Gooseberries in Light Syrup

Distributed in Salem, Oregon

Claim: “Packed at Its Peak”

Ingredients: gooseberries, water and sugar

$2.35 for a 15-ounce can

After an extremely sappy poem, of all things, that begs for a gooseberry pie recipe (she’s 88 and used to get it off the label), the copy on the can reads, “Not to worry Mrs. B., we are glad to help you dazzle your friends and family with the best-darn pie in Tulsa.”

It directs said B to the inside label where, sure enough, a pie how-to is printed. As impressed as I am by two-sided printing, I am even moreso by the guerilla marketing employed by Oregon Fruit canners. There can't be many Tulsa bakers are zeroing in on the darnedest gooseberry pie ever, but Oregon don't care.

Less impressed am I by the flavor. A gooseberry – a relative of the currant, somehow – is one of those fruits that require some assistance to be palatable. If you add sugar to strawberries, prepare to overwhelm your gooseberries, 'cause you'll have to sugar them like you salt a slug in order to get a reaction. They are some tart little monsters.

Gooseberries have this little seed at the end that needs either to be chomped or spit. The can smells of pickling. The berries are mushy and somewhat sad. I don't know if this is the berry or the canning. I suspect the latter but the former can't be far behind.

The gooseberry's claim to fame is an English dessert called fool. Anybody can make a fool – you just fold cooked, strained fruit into whipped cream – and, anymore, any fruit can be fooled. But, thank Devon, it's the gooseberry what started it all.

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