Monday, February 16, 2009

Sugar, spice, and all things tamarind

It makes sense that Valentine's candy in this country is sweet, salty, sour, and spicy all at once. Fruit is usually always garnished with salt, spice, and lime, as are the beers, and most people here add the trio to dishes even without first tasting the food. Reminds me of that scene of disgust in the movie Joy Luck Club when one of the mothers in the movie nearly faints when her daughter's boyfriend (non-Chinese) asks for soy sauce after she spent hours perfecting the dishes' flavors, only to have it all destroyed by the addition of more soy sauce (I write that anecdote as a caution for when you are invited over for dinner!)

Nick brought home a goodie bag of Valentine's Day candy on Friday, and we pored over the strange delights. The only recognizable one to us was the Milky Way. Almost all the rest were red, sweet, spicy, sour, and made of tamarind. 

Bubu Lubu is a treat made of marshmellow, chocolate, and strawberry jam. Krankys are chocolate-covered corn flakes. Duvalin is a liquid creme and chocolate candy. Not sure if it's meant to licked or dipped with fingers?!? 

Diablito is a mushy nugget of spice and tamarind. 

It was good fun tasting the spicy treats, but after one or two, we weren't sold on the salty/spicy assortment of candy. And our stomachs were feeling off. I guess it's something you either grow up with, or maybe your tongue starts to adjust to the bombardment of flavor. Honestly, my taste buds felt slightly numb. Nick says that there are similar candies in India, where they, too, love the sweet/salty/spicy concoctions. I'll try again with the rest of it in a few weeks and see if I've made any progress (the diablito looks especially tempting--or is it just the name??).


  1. Alice,
    There are many types of diablitos. It usually refers to something that is covered with chile powder. I am particularly fond of nieve de limón covered with chile en polvo. Another favorite is mango candy on a stick covered with chile en polvo. The thing is don't eat too much at one time. You guys sound like kids right after trick or treating :)

  2. We were. We laid out our stash, parceled out the best ones first (the chocolate) and then half-heartedly sifted through the chili ones.

  3. Trick or treat huh?? more like a big grab after a pinata is broken.
    Usually they offer a tiny spoon with the Duvalin's (I think that would be called a fondant in English)... but in case of no spoon you have to be flexible.

  4. Thanks for reading, Bob C. Since that day, I haven't touched any of it, but maybe I'll dig into the Duvalin tonight just to see if they have a spoon or not.

  5. Hello Alice,

    I recently had a Fiesta with a family from Mexico. They sent everyone home with a bag full of treats, purchased on a previous trip to Mexico. When I started looking up some of these candies, I found some disturbing websites on the treats.... There was a list of candies and their tested lead content, and Duvalin candy was on this list. (And one of the candies in my bag!) The website doesn't tell much after 1994, but it still makes me worry- because this and about three other sugary treats that were in my bag were also on the list.... And although I enjoyed them, I'm a little hesitant to continue enjoying them... Here is the website I found:

  6. Not surprising most of the candies from Mexico tested high with lead. Thanks for the information.