Friday, May 21, 2010 at 12:37 p.m.
Some are delightful. Some, not so much.
Photo by Riki Altman
Ah, sugar. It comes in oh, so many delightful forms. But when the words "Turkish Delight" were spotted on a box in the Middle Eastern market, it admittedly led to some concern. Would these really be delightful? And what's with this rose flavoring? Bizarro!
Yet the box wooed me like a sailor to the Sirens. The cashier, certainly noting my look of curiosity, informed me that these were the candies the White Witch used to bribe Edmund Pevensie in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Though famous literary references wouldn't normally be enough to secure a sale, some part of me began to wonder if perhaps they could be used to bribe, say, the maintenance man to finally fix the dishwasher. It was worth the $7 investment to find out.
But then the cashier also pointed out I would be remiss to forgo the other varieties offered, though they looked quite different, kind of like cross-sections of grout with tile chips inside.
Safely in the car, I bravely took off the plastic on the nearly transparent, slightly brownish one with little specks of red and was pleased to find the edges rolled in powdered sugar. But the first bite was disappointing; all I tasted was sugar and pistachio. My second victim, the white one, held a little more promise. I quickly deduced that this primarily nougat treat, though not craveable, was harmless. The third variety with the apricot-colored layers combined the best of all worlds: nutty on the inside, a little fruity on the outside, and chewy to boot.
By the time I got home, I had worked up enough nerve to try the rose-flavored ones. The presentation was alluring, for sure, as I pulled out a shelf containing rows of powdered sugar-coated cubes delicately wrapped in a light plastic blanket. The lack of rosy aroma made this candy even more intriguing, but the climax of the whole process was slicing into the first cube. Once divided, the treat looked like salmon sashimi, coral pink and glossy. Its texture was less like a chewy piece of fish and more like a gummy bear that had undergone Shiatsu for about an hour. Though it tasted strange, for sure, I eventually became obsessed with the flavor, craving this variety day after day. But it's easy to see that this is no treat for conservative-types.
Liesl Schillinger from Slate.com
wrote it reminded her of "soap rolled in plaster dust, or like a lump of Renuzit air freshener." Though I can't imagine how she knows what either household product tastes like, I can see how she could surmise the aforementioned.
So when asked who should eat this, the answer is simple: people with solid dental plans.