Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Candies of the Fair

I've said in a previous post that there is "bad candy" here in Panajachel, Guatemala. What I meant by that is we can't find our favourite treats from back home -- Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Crispy Crunch, Coffee Crisp, Kit Kat Chunky -- and the local chocolate bars are (for the most part) made with chocolate-flavoured coating, not real chocolate.

It is possible to get decadent locally-made chocolates here (hello Dina's!) but the price is a bit high for a simple snack. It's more like going to Godiva's or Purdy's than to a corner store to grab a sweet fix! The tiendas (corner stores) seem to all carry Snickers, Milky Ways, Granada, and plain Hersheys bars, which is great except they cost almost $2 Canadian a bar. After sampling many unsavory and inferior chocolate bars, we finally found a great local Snickers imitator called Sprinter. It only costs Q3 or around $0.50. Only two stores in town (that we know of) carry Sprinter bars so we are frequent shoppers there!

Okay, so back to my point -- candy! The fair came to town and with it the most amazing displays of sweets.
The largest candy vendor at the fair.
We were excited to discover that all the candy was packaged in bags for Q5. So any bag you picked -- Q5! Of course, some bags contained more candy than others, but it was a great way to sample different kinds without breaking the bank.

There were some candies we recognized and didn't feel compelled to try as they were similar to things back home: Rice Krispies treats dyed in various colours and cut in various shapes, meringues, lollipops, hard sucky candies, popcorn balls, cotton candy. We tried to get a taste of any candy that looked appetizing and strange! Here are the results. :)

Coconut Wedges and Fudge Fingers -- and least that's what we called them!
My eyes were first drawn to the very colourful piled wedges of candy that looked like a sugary five-layer cake. When I asked the candy lady, she said something about "coco", so I figured some sort of coconut candy. I bit into a purple wedge -- whoa! SUGARY. It was very grainy with a slight coconut flavour. I was anticipating pressed dried sweetened coconut, which it kinda was but with waaaaay too much sugar in it. (I can't believe I said too much sugar!) Some of the lighter coloured pieces were less sugary and more coconutty and I enjoyed them more.

The Fudge Fingers were our favourites! They were officially called dulce de something. (Dulce means sweet, of course.) It was pretty much like eating icing. Darn yummy. There were subtle variations in flavours with each colour but most tasted like vanilla or brown sugar to me. We had several samples of these over the week. :D

Sesame Diamonds and Red Balls
The next samplings I picked without Bert to advise me. I wanted to try something a bit less sweet, so I chose sesame diamonds. I was intrigued by the BRIGHT red sugary balls and asked what they were. The vendor said something about tamarindo. Okey-dokey. Bring it on!

Well, the red ball turned out to be a mistake! I took big happy bite -- and spit it out! It was just a ball of pure sugar dyed with an incredible amount of red food colouring. It tasted, well, sugary of course but also some sort of sourness. Not good. I dissected the ball and found three weird seed-like things buried inside. Perhaps tamarind pulps or seeds? They were kinda gooey like a fig but when I tried to bite them, they were hard as rocks! Sorry, Red Balls, you went in the trash. :(

The sesame diamonds were a bit better but not as great as I was anticipating. I expected them to be like the pressed sesame snacks we get back home, honey flavoured. They were kinda like that but a lot less sugar (surprise!) and more of a burnt flavour. The sesame seeds had been toasted and just a few burnt ones lent their tang to the whole bar. Still, we devoured both bars. A nice change.

Sixty-nine candies. Tilt your head. :D
These were the last candies I took a picture of. They were really sweet, not really flavoured with anything I could tell, just sugary and kinda fudgy textured. Bert liked them but they weren't my fave. They were packaged on a dried piece of corn husk.

We also had a few candies that I didn't get pictures of:
--hard honey candies with sesame seeds like the ones we had in Mexico, sticky but awesome
--gummie worms and gummie bananas, delicious! Disappeared quickly and we wanted more!

Not really a candy but the ring-shaped cookies need to be represented here.
rosca, traditional ring-shaped cookie
There were many vendors set up with piles and piles of bags of ring cookies, plus bags of peanuts in shells. There were big rings and small rings like the one pictured above. Roscas (roh-SKAHS) are dry cookies, like biscotti, not very sweet, very crunchy. Great for dipping in coffee or spreading with icing. The dogs loved them too!
I asked Victor, our tuk-tuk friend, why the vendors didn't just sell roscas all the time. He looked at me strangely and replied, "They are only for the fair." Of course. Makes perfect sense. (NOT. Ha!)

So we've gotten our sugar fix for, like, EVER. Plus, I finally got a good night's sleep last night since there were few bombas, although Bert told me this morning that I slept through a good 15 minutes of fireworks around midnight. Maybe I'm getting accustomed? Just in case, I'm going to go searching for ear plugs for the next celebration.
Hasta luego, mis amigos!

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