Voices From Russia, Too

Saturday, 29 October 2011

29 October 2011. A Russian POV… Some Amazin’ Things About Candy…

Filed under: Food/Cooking — 01varvara @ 00.00
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The very first candy appeared in Egypt. Because sugar wasn’t known at that time, they used dates and honey as sweetening agents. In the ancient Middle East, candy was made from almonds and figs; in ancient Rome, they combined roasted nuts and poppy seeds with honey and covered it all with sesame seeds. There was also candy in ancient Rus, made with sweet birch sap, treacle, and honey.

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The most unjustly maligned sweet is chocolate. In Europe, in the 16th century, during the first chocolate craze, people attributed magical and medicinal properties to it. Naturally, since these expectations weren’t fulfilled, they began to consider it the source of virtually all ills. One young woman wrote to her friend, “I advise you not to eat any more chocolate. A friend ate it during her pregnancy and she gave birth to a completely black child.”

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Romantic people prefer strawberry candy, that’s according to German psychologists. By the way, the bold go for cherry fillings, shy shrinking violets like nuts (the food, that is), and creative sorts have a yen for coconut.

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At the beginning of the 19th century, every rich and noble lady discreetly hid some of the candy laid out on the table in her handbag at dinner receptions. The explanation for this “thievery” is simple, really… in Russia, at that time, there were no confectionery shops, and the candies for the dinner parties were prepared by pastry chefs according to their own recipes, which were strictly secret.

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The praline is another famous candy, being invented in 1663. A pastry chef cooked them specifically for the French Ambassador to the German Emperor, and pralines are still a most popular confection in Germany and Switzerland.

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Master Food Company produced the largest box of chocolates for an international cooking show. The box was 1.5 metres (5 feet) high and 2.5 metres (8.2 feet) in length, holding 800 kilogrammes (1,764 pounds) of chocolates!

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The biggest individual confection was a Gummi Bear nicknamed Hagi-Boy, which was 1.68 metres (5.5 feet) tall and weighed 633 kilos (1,396 pounds), made by the Haribo Gummi Bear Factory. It required a special mould that weighed 4 tonnes (4.4 tons), and it took two weeks for the fruit candy solution to fully gel. After that, the giant sweet was removed from the form and it was polished until it shone. Here’s some trivia… there’s a mixed drink named after Gummi Bears… NO LIE. In Austria and Switzerland, it is called Gummibärli. You make it with vodka and Red Bull and it has the typical Gummi Bear flavour.

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Lollipops are the most “cosmic” sweet. In 1995, the Russian cosmonauts on the Mir space station asked mission control to send them some candy. The MCC decided that the safest candy in a weightless state would be lollipops. Cosmonauts with lollipops shot a video for a commercial for the company Chupa Chups, pointing up it was the world’s only confection popular not only on Earth but in outer space.

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As for the most unusual sweets in the world, it’s got to be the candy from Finland. Finns make sour (not sweet), salty (for beer), and even oily confections!

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One of the most famous Soviet candies was Птичье молоко (Ptichye moloko: Bird’s Milk). Initially it was formed around a cake and it was made by the ROT FRONT plant. The secret ingredient was agar-agar gelatin, extracted from seaweed. incidentally, agar-agar’s also used for finishing fabrics.

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