Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Answer: Three little Swiss mysteries?

 Living anywhere new inevitably leads to discoveries and recognition that the world is larger and more interesting than you might have thought, 

As mentioned, I'm here in Switzerland for four months. Even though I've been here before many times, the extended time period of living in one distinctly different place is proving to be eye-opening.  

But as a person who's relatively new to life in Zürich, I've found a few things that are charming and puzzling at the same time.  Can you help me figure out what's going on in each of these cases? 

1. Why are these eggs colored orange/yellow?  I bought them in the local grocery store where they were sitting out on the shelf, unrefrigerated.  The label on the container says Schweizer Eier (Swiss eggs).  I've seen many different colored eggs from friends who have chickens (blue, green, brown, some with spots), still, this is extraordinary color.  But what's the story here?  What kind of chicken would produce these eggs?  

I was thinking that these eggs were naturally this color. After all, eggs DO come in a bunch of different colors!  I knew that, in the US at least, chicken eggs can show up in a variety of shades:
Photo by Justin Pius, NRCS

So I was prepared to think that maybe Swiss chickens are simply more colorful!  

I spent a lot of time searching for colored eggs, learning that I needed to include chicken in my searches, as there are a wild number of different kinds of eggs from a zillion kinds of birds, some of which are extraordinary. (See the Science News article about different egg colors.)  

I also have to admit to spending at least 30 minutes poking around looking at many pages, and NOT finding anything. Oh, I found a lot, but the colored eggs made at Easter, or the tendency to have naturally dyed eggs were all over the results.  Here's a sample of what I was seeing: 

I was just scrolling around, trying to figure out what to do when I noticed one article about Look! Colored Eggs in Swiss Supermarket.  That's what I was looking for!  But in the article, it mentioned that "colored eggs... are so nice for picnics."  Huh?  You wouldn't take raw eggs on a picnic, right?  

So I changed my query to a question using that as inspiration: 
     [ Why are there colored eggs in Swiss supermarkets? ] 

And very quickly learned from a Reddit post that "In Switzerland, grocery stores sell painted hard-boiled eggs in order to differentiate between the fresh and hard-boiled ones."  (SRS tip: Google is much, much better at answering free-form questions, independent of the LLM work.) 

Now Reddit is fun, but a bit untrustworthy.  However, when I double-checked, I found multiple sources telling me this.  Grocery stores in Switzerland DO sell hard-boiled eggs in a variety of colors (these red/gold eggs are from one particular store--different store will have different colors)! 

I checked on the package that held the eggs and found (in fairly small font!) that they are "Aus Freilandhaltung * gekocht * gefärbt."  I should have looked more carefully. Google Translate tells me that this means "Free range * cooked * colored."  

Ah.  Got it.

Lesson learned: Read the package (even the small print) first.  Also learned that sometimes you'll learn the crucial tip by just scanning the results!  

2. While on a hike in the Alps (near Rigi Scheidegg, if that helps), I came across this flag--and I have no idea what kind of a flag this is. What does it represent?  (It might help to know that the Swiss are a little flag-crazy. There is traditional Swiss flag-tossing (a kind of bucolic, even serene sport... watch the video), and flags seem to abound.  Given the level of vexillological interest here, it must signify something, but what?  

This has turned out to be very hard--I'm not sure I have the right answer.  I tried all of the obvious image search tools (Google Image Search / Lens; Tineye; Bing Image Search; Yandex Image Search), but none of them gave me anything good.  

I tried various descriptions of the flag (four white hearts, four-leaf clover on a red background, etc etc.), but nothing really worked.  I searched for versions of these terms with words like "logo" or "flag" or "emblem" or "sigil" or "device"... but I didn't get very fair.  SRS Reader Paul L tried the specific flag search engine FlagID.org (that's a new one to me.. nice find Paul), but to no avail.  

I figured it was a cantonal flag or arms--but I checked those as well--no dice.  

Paul also "... finally loosened the search to only include red flag with white and scanned to see the much sharper edges of the Maltese cross on the Bardonnex Commune (Switzerland) flag."  While that's really close, it's not quite the same thing.  

I even made a fairly high-resolution image of the flag and tried to Google Lens (and Bing, and Tineye) this: 

But this didn't really work either.  I found some near hits: 

- a UK company called Schmecken that has a logo very much like this: 

- a Finnish group on Twitter/X called Pohjois-Pohjanmaa for social and health security association: 

- a car company, Autoclover

But nothing that was flag-like and Swiss.  Is it possible that this is a one-off custom flag?  

Then I was walking down the street in the town of St. Gallen (in northern Switzerland) and saw this stand-up box advertising the Swiss national lottery, Swisslos: 

Which is the closest Swiss 4-lobed clover-like bit of iconography I can find.  (Later I went back and looked deeper in my search-by-image results and found the Swisslos logo.  Always go deeper.)  

But it's not an exact match.  People who make flags are pretty picky about the details of their design.  (See the brilliant Roman Mars TED talk about flag design. 18 minutes that will change the way you look at flags.)  

So I'm not convinced we know the answer.  We're going to have to leave this as an open Challenge for the moment.  I'll keep looking, and you, my Regular Readers, should do the same.  IF you see it, post a comment here so we'll all know what it actually is.  (And I, for my part, if I go back to that part of the Alps, I'll find the owner and ask!)  

3.  I've seen some interesting vegetables before in farmer's markets before, but this one seems very Seussian to me.  What ARE these things? How would I eat one?  

This one was easy: looks like a weird cabbage, smells like a cabbage, so my query was: 

     [ cone shaped cabbage ] 

Which rapidly told me that this cabbage has a number of names: conehead, pointed, arrowhead, and sweetheart cabbage.  It's described as having "... leaves, with variations of pea green colorings, are thin, broad, deeply veined, tightly enveloped lengthwise and bluntly pointed. The flavor of Conehead cabbage is mild and remarkably sweet, void of that bold cruciferous flavor that is most reminiscent of cabbage."

Naturally, I bought one for research purposes and ate it for most of the week.  It is, indeed, sweetly flavored and is a lovely thing to have on your plate.  (I just sautéed/steamed mine with a little olive oil, garlic, and salt.  Yum!) 

SearchResearch Lessons 

1. Mind your assumptions!  In the colored egg Challenge I had assumed that the eggs in question were naturally colored like that.  I was prepared to learn that Swiss chickens are some interesting breed that lay technicolor eggs.  It took me a while to undo that assumption and figure out that they're dyed eggs.  

2. Even unreliable sources can be useful.  I found that Reddit post about hard-boiled Swiss eggs to crack the case (so to speak), but I know that Reddit can be unreliable. So when I checked, I was pleased to find MANY sources confirming that colored eggs are hardboiled, just like this detective.  

3. Read the fine print.  I skipped the fine print on the package partly because it was small and partly because it was in German, and while I can read lots of German, I didn't know what Aus Freilandhaltung meant, so I stopped reading.  FWIW, I know what gekocht and gefärbt mean... but I'd stopped reading too early.  

4. Some Challenges don't come easily. The identity of the flag has not yet been cracked!  It's an open case.  Sometimes, that's the way it goes.  

Keep searching! 


  1. I'm thinking that maybe the flag is something that the owner created. Maybe using the Swiss colors and what she likes. Maybe something that means something for their family?

  2. 1] Coloured eggs via Lens: I believe that indicates they are hard boiled, in say, turmeric water for orange. My test of this just made orange soup and the egge excaped from the hot tub looking unchanged.

    2] The flag: to quote one Dan Russell, "I have no idea what kind of flag this is." Lens and I looked all over the place but after too many hours i can formulate a guess: I/we love/heart Switzerland.

    The vid is so fast paced it sure was hard to follow all the intricate moves. Kinda like watching Simone Biles. A further vexillogical FunFact: I had cousin named thusly: Vexillian. Apparently mother well educated and so wanted her own Flag Bearer.

    3] Lens figured these to be Cone Cabbages. https://www.professionalsecrets.com/en/ps/ps-university/chef-de-partie-vegetables/kale/kale-guide/cabbage-spts/#:~:text=The%20taste%20is%20slightly%20sweet,can%20be%20purple%20or%20red.

    You can eat them raw, sliced, grated and shredded. Baked, fried, crispy too.

    I am glad you can speak the local lingo in class. Hope this leads to a more permanent position in life.


    So you are now about 10 hours ahead of my/our WEST coast time zone. Will affect the rest of us ?

    I had sent this in but it got lost over, I guess, the Atlantic. Let's see if this one makes it.


  3. updated UAP near Mountain View/Zürich
    on the move?


  4. something to occupy the Swiss down time…
    any activity in the Alps?
    are the Swiss doing this?
    there is always this —

  5. all from evolved cones (cabbage?) - 🇨🇭 🇨🇭 🇨🇭 🇨🇭
    there is much to sift through… we blunt skulls have much to search…
    was there sRs on Remulak? - Mebs! Mebs! Unacceptable!
    "Beldar Conehead : Ah, the morning consumption of mass quantities. Grid-like breakfast slabs... seared strips of swine flesh and flattened chicken embryos. I will enjoy it."
    for the linguists -

  6. oh my gosh - they are everywhere…

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  8. are the Swiss monitoring the comments - again?
    the cheese has fewer holes…

  9. That's really true... It's a tad pricey. On the other hand, dairy products are pretty cheap because of government subsidies.

  10. I can verify that "river side bathing" is cheap and wonderful.

  11. a "search map" from Amalia Mesa-Bains:

  12. you can view controversy - counter the Swiss tranquility…
    kinda looks like an Apple store -
    Until 31.12.2024
    Kunsthaus Zürich
    8001 Zürich
    also there:
    not in the exhibit, but related - weapons & war
    perhaps the Swiss have a part again?

  13. SwissEgg Sky… more AlpenGlowFungi vision
    swimmer —