Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tuesday Treat in Toledo

It's no secret that I love marzipan. In fact, it made the cut on my top-ten list of Spanish foods. All of that soft almond flavour packed into a chewy little bite, mmmm, so good! But definitely a treat - we're talking uber-sweet, so while I could eat it every day, I really, really don't. Honest.
When I do eat it, I eat the best. In Spain, that means a trip to Toledo, the birthplace (according to Spaniards, anyway), of marzipan. This delicacy has been made in Toledo since around since 850, so who knows, it might be true. Thanks to the Marzipan Regulatory Council of Toledo - not kidding - almonds must make up at least 50% of the total weight, and almond oil, 14%. Yummy! It's not as sweet as American-made marzipan, which is fine with me - I like the almonds to dominate. If you don't like marzipan, it's because you haven't tried the Spanish kind yet!
Spanish, mazapan: Nuns in Toledo, so the story goes historically accurate facts tell us (ok, Tall Guy, I'll give you marzipan) were miraculously given the recipe to feed the malnourished citizens during a  siege. They were out of wheat, you see, but had plenty of sugar, honey and almonds.

Once you taste some marzipan, you'll see why dozens of countries lay claim to the invention - it's that good. Go into a marzipan shop - I prefer Santo Tome - and just breath it in. It's been around since 1856, and uses a mix of almonds, pine nuts and thousand-flower honey to get that exquisite marzipan flavour.
the cellophane packages hold a marzipan fish (yeah, I've eaten a whole one)

You can buy marzipan by weight. Do you want  just one to try? They'll wrap it up in a tiny and beautiful paper bag. A kilo or two? They'll be carefully boxed and wrapped in gold and purple paper. Now that's a gift I love to receive, and also one I give a lot. It's a great "typical Spanish" thing to give, and if the receiver decides to open it up and share while I'm there... mmmm - let's put the coffee on.

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