Gluey, grainy, pasty and downright revolting. Sorry, I just don’t like them, and I’m not the only one.
I am of course referring to the insufferable foodstuff that abruptly invade Spanish supermarket shelves around the beginning of December and stay there until the end of January. Turrón – available in paste or rock-hard form, Polvorones – dry, doughy, lard-based cookies that stick to your gums for hours, Mantecados – similar to Polvorones (just as lardy) but bigger and hidden away in brightly coloured wrapping paper.
I’m not a fussy eater, but I can’t – for the life of me – gulp down any of these traditional treats without pulling a face. I’ll never forget my first encounter with a Mantecado: our landlady gifted my French housemate and I a box as a parting Christmas present (a rare display of generosity), which I wasted no time in diving into. One large mouthful later and I was scorning my overzealousness whilst spitting clumps of the stuff into the toilet. Rather than throwing them out we then used them as forfeits in a game of cards. Then there was the turrón. The first time I opened up a box of the Alicante-variety I thought it had gone off. Then, after being reassured of its edibility by a friend, I took a bite and almost lost a tooth.
Perhaps I’m being unreasonable though; there are one or two that aren’t so bad. Mazapan, which is either loved or loathed the world over in any case, is often gorged upon at Christmas time – particularly in Toledo, where it is said to have originated. It is baked in the form of seasonal figurines and goes down quite nicely, as does another Christmas favourite: Tronco de Navidad. This festive pudding is chocolate based, log-shaped and as popular in France but – at least for me – doesn’t make up for the damage done by its grim relatives.
Have you tried any of the above? Agree or disagree? Any others to add to the list? Let’s hear it…