Monday, 8 February 2010

I'm afraid of Americans

I've had this David Bowie song stuck in my head all day. It's a great song - even better, dare I say it, when covered by Trent Reznor and belted out live to a packed arena. I've not spent a great deal of time in the US and what time I have spent there has mainly been in airport transit lounges. I seem to fly to the US to get interrogated and poked around, then fly off somewhere else. International soil? Yeah right. Nice.

Up until recently, I would have considered America's best contribution to the world of food to be cheese slices you could use as sticky notes. I don't really like peanut butter very much; as I can't bring myself to eat something you could use to grout the bathroom and I don't like the bread. I don't eat a lot of meat, so I get funny looks. I am a self confessed diet coke addict, but I don't know what they put in it in the US to make it taste like that. I can't cope with the sheer amount of food I am given, it puts terror in my heart. Despite all this, I think I'm in the minority when I say that I actually have a massive respect for the much maligned American confectionary. I like Hershey's chocolate, I like marshmallow fluff and M&Ms (even the peanut butter ones). I even like marshmallow peeps. I've eaten twinkies and lived. Say what you will, America understands sugar very very well. It does sugar properly, without the guilt of the British or the arrogance of the continent and (quite rightly) doesn't give a damn what you think.

My quest for the perfect chocolate drop of my childhood hit a wall yesterday when I spent my afternoon wandering around all of the shops near my department looking for sweets that looked like sweets rather than pale looking sweets made with fruit juice and extract of hippies. There was nothing even remotely appealing looking, nothing bright, nothing that screamed chromophore. The history of chemistry is littered with wonderful stories of the brightest dyes and quests for the most amazing colours and now everything I see looks like it's been washed at 90 degress with a black sock. Then it struck me, I needed big, bold, bright and brash. I needed confident. I needed American.

In the UK, getting hold of American treats isn't easy unless you are lucky enough to have American work collegues who you can send home with a shopping list. A couple of the delis round here sell marshmallow fluff, Reese's pieces and peanut butter cups. You can buy Oreo cookies in most supermarkets. I bring back lucky charms breakfast cereal for my sister everytime I go to the US but I occassionally see boxes here too.

M&M's, however, are fairly ubiquitous. Okay, so they don't come in 3 kg bags, nor do they taste like ones from the US because they are manufactured on the continent, packed in Ireland and have more Airmiles than I do, but they look the part. I wonder if they have a vacancy for a proof reader in the factory; they may even let me eat all the w's.

M&M's are similar to Smarties anatomically, although they are prettier, brighter, shinier and more regularly shaped. They are slighly smaller - still not as flat as the Smarties of old, but certainly closer in shape than the current stage of evolution of the chocolate drop was to its ancestor. Because the colours are nice and bright, matching is simpler. It matches to a different red from the fimo range than the last one.

So, same procedure as before - little chocolate coloured discs...

then a white layer...

then the outer shell...

All done!

As before, a sugarcraft cutter can be used to nip out a bite mark.

There is no need for sanding and dappling this time, just a quick dusting with varnish.

So there we go. Chocolate drops of the present (right) with their distant cousins, chocolate drops of the past (left). Long may their memory be preserved.

I'm afraid I can't help it. I'm afraid I can't.

1 comment:

Top Floor T said...

OOooooh I LOVE American sweets and chocolate!! I'm right with you there. Have you seen Cyber Candy? They have a shop in London - once you're in you don't want to leave....