I lost quite a bit of weight (like 7 kilos) on the vegan diet, but if I'm not careful it's all going to pile right back on with a new habit I've acquired, namely, treating myself to a sweetie or two (or five) as I write.
Sugar is wildly addictive; once your system is used to that early morning sugar rush (I write first thing), you get to looking forward to it. I've started to find myself musing about sweets of old, found myself toying with the idea of going to Thorntons in town or Hamiltons in Burford to get a fix of premium sweeties.
You start with something recreational and 'harmless' like a Bassetts strawberry bon-bon and before long you need a handmade violet cream, Soor Plooms or some Extremely Chocolately Thorntons Special Toffee. You have to go further for your fix, make special trips.
The thing is, I just can't afford the calories. I snagged a fabulous size 12 Diane Von Fustenberg wrap dress on ebay this morning (very good price!) and I'll be damned if I can't look good in it this summer.
So the bag of M&S Devon Toffees on my desk will have to be the last for a long time.
In the meantime, I can bypass the craving by thinking about sweeties and which are my Top Ten.
10. Sherbert Lemons
Sharp, tangy taste but there's a price to be paid in the wounds you get to the roof of the mouth. Good for those with vampiric tendences who quite enjoy the taste of blood.
9. Cream Soda Sherbert
Pink and creamy, vanilla and icing sugar combined with citric acid, it's not half bad. Great for dippin', ideally a strawberry lollipop.
8. Chupa Chups
It's not all about the nostalgia, and not all the best sweeties are British. These Spanish lollipops are the best! So many yummy flavours. When the Spice Girls broke up, Sainsbury's sold off buckets of Spice Girl Chupa Chups for a fiver. I bought them for my office and that whole summer long, everyone sucked Chupas. I love them all but the cherry flavour just wins.
Another foreign sweetie - Mexican this time. It's like halva but made from peanuts; a little cake of compressed, powdered roast peanuts and sugar. de la Rosa brand are ubiquitous but I prefer the other kind...can't remember the name.
A Mexican milk caramel in the style of 'dulce de leche' or 'manjar' but made from goat's milk. It is sweeter, stickier, pours and has a distinctive flavour. Amazing over hot cakes (fluffy American pancakes). From a town in Queretaro state called Celaya, which I once visited and found a shop which sold ONLY cajeta! Walls stacked high with shelves just crammed with shiny bottles of the lovely caramel syrup. My favourite flavour is quemado (burnt), favourite brand is Coronado. Best served fresh on a spoon.
5. Blackcurrant and Liquorice Eclairs
Whoever dreamed up combining the flavours of blackcurrant and liquorice? Sheer genius. The boiled sweet is heaven and then the chewy contrast of the aniseedy liquorice.
4. Anglo Bubble Gum
You need two at a time to get a really good bubble-blowing session going. There's a salty tang to these that I love. (Bazooka Joe is okay too, and Bubble Yum. I disapprove of all these new fruit-flavoured bubble-gums. Bubble Gum should taste of Bubble Gum!)
3. Pear Drops
Not the massive ones which slice your tonque when you suck them down to razor-sharp candy slivers, but the small, sugar-encrusted ones. What an amazing flavour; nothing likes pears, but exactly like something we used to make in organic chemistry practicals.
2. Rose and Violet Creams
Juicy, floral fondants in dark chocolate. The more expensive the better. The local French patisserie does these; delicious. My favourite flavour is rose, except on days when it's violet.
1. Thorntons Special Toffee
Gosh this is good. I have tasted many, many a toffee and not found it's equal. Buttery and caramely; I've spent a lot of time trying to cook sugar and do not underestimate how hard it must have been to get this recipe right. The flavoured variants are well-intended but they just detract from the subtle buttery notes which float over the caramelised, milky sugar. Stick to Original.
P.S. Can't believe I forgot Spanish turron, a sweet made from almonds! Jijona-style, please. Mmmmm.