Ode to Baci, M. and The New York Times

I love reading the essays on The New York Times. I subscribe via Yahoo mail, for free! I hope they don't start billing me so I can continue reading about how things happening on the other side of the world and up and down the economic scale may actually be common place, parallel experiences except in more elegant, deeper, wittier prose.  The insight offered is just mind-boggling at times but really resonates with me.  One in particular is all about...candy! On the surface it's a sweet walk down memory candy lane and an interesting list of candy I haven't heard of, much less tasted.  Modern Love columnist Sarah Hope Andersen wrote about how In Bitter Moments, (we) Reach for the Sweet.  It got me thinking how nice it was to sit in waiting rooms being generously offered free candy.  Candy and chocolates, particularly the ones on Sarah's list costs much so barring having an immigrant friend, uncles and aunts, OFW parent or siblings, and manna from somebody else's balikbayan box, most people wouldn't come close to a pack.  Most people here will stuff as much as they can in their pocket or bag when candy is for the taking..

Of course Cadbury, Hershey's, Lotte, Lindt, Ferrero Rocher, M&Ms, Van Houten, Meiji, et. al. are now on supermarket shelves and a candy fix is a vat/taxed/45 peso to a dollar conversion compute-and-pay away. It's a good thing that Hershey's now packs Kisses by tingi (small packets so we can afford it) and promotes via free taste! Yum!

These used to be exclusively sold at the Airport Duty Free Shop, a trip to which is the main event of arrivals, also a brag-about thing between playmates.  I grew up thinking of the States as the land of milk chocolate and everything from there smells of cool air and cocoa . An afterthought: maybe its Downy I smelled, way before the age of fabric conditioner in my part of the world.
I am partial to European chocolates, Lindt and those bought by the block somebody brought me, (though Hershey's is my go-to baking chocolate, cocoa and syrup, Special Dark please!)  Callebaut is reserved for extra extra special bakes.
My most favorite is Baci Perugina.  I'd love a whole box (Amazon carries it).  I know I can finish off the lot in one sitting, if only I wasn't so intent on carefully unwrapping each and making it last.  I so love bittersweet chocolate and whole hazelnuts (nocciola)! Opening a silver and blue-starred foil wrapped ball is like falling in melty bittersweet love with a hard (but not too much) bump to it, much like the real thing (love, you know, reality bites).  Right before all that silky and crunchy goings on in your mouth, you get sweet words printed on a ribbon of paper: poetic love phrases to tempt and romance you  in four languages (Italian, English, and French and Spanish were on the ones I got, but they say some batches are in German, Greek, and Portuguese). I used to save all the love notes and try to memorize them so I could say it back to someone someday. Don't know where it got to. That's the history though, a secret love expressed with notes hidden in the chocolate truffle. Baci Perugina is always on my wishlist Christmas or not! Another thought: maybe Hershey's Kisses with its flag is a more popular (more politically correct term for "cheaper" although prices now don't make it so) take on the Italian confection, Baci is Italian for kisses.  Nestle bought Perugina so does that make Baci more affordable? Can't remember how much it cost before.  On Amazon the range is 10-18$.

But the gist of the Modern Love write up is Sarah's love and loss with candy prominently figuring in it.  I feel for her, and in some ways I and a lot of people I know have and do reach for candy to console us, cheer us up, help us buckle up to whoever and whatever.  Candy is an American word that covers all the sweet stuff wrapped in fancy paper, foil or gift box.  Our sweet stuff is categorized by candy as in hard, fruity, chewy, center filled, gummy pulled sugar and soft caramels while chocolate is a class all its own. At best, candy is courtship and romance and happiness. At the worst of times, they are instant, handy pick-me-uppers, a mobile sugar rush, a way to stave off something so that when we have the time and emotion to spare, we can wallow in it and think our way through, with comfort food or dessert. For us too, comfort food is tied with moments and people. Desserts require a longer mulling over of things, a quiet cafe corner alone or with someone sympathetic, with much sighing and time to commiserate, and then the slow dawning and sweetening to make us strong again.    

P.S. This is a piece dedicated to M., a friend of mine who is helping me and my budding cakes and cookies business with her encouragement and support.  She is struggling with an issue that taxes her strength and love everyday but manages with good humor, faith, and cookies ; ).  I wish her fortitude and promises to resist offering new sweets less often to keep her healthy.  Exception only when I badly need a capital boost or my credit card bill is due hehehe so every two weeks is about right!

P.s 2: I chose the Italian link because Bacetti (the mascot I think) is so cute! Plus its fun to read La Storia. Much more romantic! You can have the page translated of course, if your server works well.

     

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