Last weekend I stumbled across the Met Museum’s scrumptuous dinner-table display of courtly Austrian porcelains set with a colorful arrangement of sugarpaste flowers, gilded sugar-mold artichokes, bowls teetering with candy walnuts and apricots and blossoms and lacy sugar-“temples”. I felt like a kid staring at all those goodies, never wishing to touch any of that abundance, just eating it greedily with my heart.
When I was young it used to take me hours to walk home from school because I had to traverse a Bermuda triangle of candy-stores. The most dangerous of these was Café Vetter, which usually promoted a grotesque (and very German) pastry called tree-cake which, without getting too deeply into it, is baked in layers on a spit (I swear this is true!). I was indifferent to these strange logs, but pressed my nose against the windows with great intensity to take in all the details of the delectable world of marzipan mushrooms and sugar leaves and chocolate ants and birds and frosted flowers they set up around the trees. Sometimes there would be a harvest of marzipan cabbages, carrots, turnips and potatoes, at others you might come across Hansel and Gretel traversing a sugary winter-wonderland to reach a baroquely decorated gingerbread house. I will always love this sweet parallel world whose magic lays suspended in resisting the temptation of eating it out of of existence.
By the way, can you tell I haven’t had candy in six weeks?