Thursday, December 10, 2009

012.Bonne Maman Chestnut Spread

Produced in Biars-sur-Cere, France
Distributed by American Marketing Team, Bloomfield, New Jersey
Claim: none
Ingredients: sugar, chestnut puree, cane sugar, vanilla.
$2.41 ("clearance" price) for 13 ounces

Biars is a village in the Lot region of southwest France. It's apparently something of a ville de confitures - a jam town. Bonne Maman, in spite of its rustic packaging, is an internationally famous preserve. American Marketing Team is the same group who bring us the Jules Destrooper biscuits.

I can't remember where I got my first taste of creme de maron. Some patisserie somewhere, lathered onto a croissant or something. I do recall our first encounter with chestnuts: Toulouse, New Year's Eve, in the place du Capitole, watching dark, handsome gents - their black curls drifting out from under their black, Gascon berets - roast whole chestnuts over steel barrels banked with hot coals. The smell was caustic, invigorating, of an ancient regime.

Chestnut spread is not jam. More like apple butter, a bit grainy and not too terribly sweet. It has a nuttiness that's invaded by some other nuance - something perfumed, maybe. It's hard to peg. But it tastes wonderful on toast.


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