Saturday, April 16, 2011
a field guide to spanish junk food. part 2: gummies
You thought I'd forgotten about this series, didn't you? That I was going to leave you all alone, clueless and overwhelmed in the Spanish candy store, unless all you happened to want were some caramels?
Think again, because today I'm tackling what is probably the most popular and definitely the most overwhelming of the Spanish candy families: gummies, known locally as txutxes or the less-Basquified chuches.
The first thing you're going to notice when you approach the gummy section is how dang much there is to choose from.
only a tiny selection from a local chucheria
Hang on, you're saying, is that an egg? A turtle? A bone? A brain? A twisty-looking something or other?
The first thing to keep in mind is this: if it looks like something, it probably doesn't taste like that thing. Clownfish don't taste like clownfish, and burgers don't taste like burgers. They both taste like generic chemical fruit flavor.
The only exceptions to this rule I can think of are 1) fruits and 2) chilli peppers. Yes, this is Sp- uh, Iberia, where nothing is ever spicy, but these little guys are picantes nonetheless. Way to buck two rules at once, gummy chillis.
The next thing you'll notice is this: they're all priced by weight, so you can mix and match. And for your first time in the den of sugar rush that is the chuchería, this is your best plan of approach. My suggestion? Go through and grab one of everything that looks interesting. Grab one of everything that looks popular, too. Do a taste test and remember which ones were your favorites.
At this point, I've narrowed it down to a couple standbys I go for every time. Red gummies of the Manneken Pis (see middle right-hand side of picture) are reliably wonderful and taste a lot like Swedish fish, if you can get past the admitted weirdness inherent in chewing on a tiny peeing boy.
Cola bottles are good and, come to think of it, another exception to the "things don't taste like what they look like" rule.
My very favorites, though, are the bizarre fruit licorice tubes filled with cream (see just below Manneken Pis). Picture a Twizzler or an Australian fruit licorice, filled with the filling of a Cow Tale, and you pretty much have the amazing treat you see here. Lucky for you, these are also the most ubiquitous - I've never been in a chucheria without seeing these.
So get after it! Just keep in mind, though, if you're planning on returning to the US, you're going to find yourself stocking up before heading home, then hoarding them Gollum-like upon arrival on American soil. I still bring them back in embarrassing quantities to my friend Elizabeth.
these things: not just blackberry and raspberry flavored anymore