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Sunday, June 27, 2010

I'll take you to the candy shop!

The Cypriot candied fruit (Pinneaples, oranges, apricots... even whole walnuts shell and all!)

Anyone who knows me well, knows what my two favorite things in the world are... candy & bacon. So when we discovered that our last filming event would be at a candy and sausage/meat factory, it was as if I had just been told we were going to Disney World. Only instead of Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh... I'd be snacking on a little Piglet :(

The candy factory was like nothing I had ever seen before. In my head I was imagining the mass machinery popping out colorful gum drops and lollypops by the hundreds. But instead all I found was a very hot, very cramped room with many people hard at work. No, they were not Oompa Lumpas (to my dismay)... but they were Cypriot women dressed in hair nets and aprons, busy taking out the seeds of apricots, mixing a syrup mixture in a pot, and dipping & jarring each separate piece of candy... all by hand.

This process took such a long time, 2 weeks to just make one jar of candied fruit! The traditional Cypriot sweet, called Soutzoukko, takes a lot less time... however it looks very unappetizing at first glance... and second glance... and third. In all honesty this might have been the only candy I have ever NOT had the desire to consume. They make it by threading almonds together on a string, then they dip the sting into a hot, thick mixture of rose water, flour, and grape juice. When it finally dries... the only way to describe this candy would be a giant stringy blob of nasty brown clumps. Yum?

I finally worked up the courage to try a piece of this interesting candy. I put a bit of glump into my mouth and started to chew... it felt as if I bit right into a gel candle (which I actually have done before). All I could taste was the grape juice and almonds... but there was no real evident sweetness to the candy. Needless to say, it was not my favorite.

So very happy with the interesting experience, but with a bad taste in my mouth... I was ready to journey to the Sausage & Meat Factory to eat some bacon! However... I did not know we were going to be eating a very large Meze for lunch before we got to the last factory. After piles and piles of pita bread, humus, lamb, chicken, and pork... meat was the last thing on my mind. When we walked through the door to the factory, a gust of smoke and cooked meat overwhelmed us.

They took us into the freezer first, to see how the meat is prepared. I was shocked to see rows and rows of meat soaking in blood. Chills went down my spine... both from the cold, and from disgust. But thankfully we were told that the red liquid was actually red wine and not blood.
That made our view in the room much better, however whatever relief I had felt was quickly eliminated when we were told to go into the next room... the smoke room. The room, only 10 feet wide at the most, was not enough room for 2 people... let alone 6 WITH camera gear! We crowded around what looked like a burned out fire pit... I didn't know where to step. Turns out I stepped one too many times and found myself ankle deep in white ashes. Trying to shake off my dusty feet and look around at the same time, I looked up and found myself staring face to face with a huge slab of hanging meat only inches from my nose.

All in all this experience was quite terrifying, but I must say the meat did taste delicious. What made both the meat and candy so good (despite the odd acquired taste I had to get use to) was simply the tradition behind it all. The factories were family owned for decades and they took time to hand make every thing they sold. In this case, quality far passed quantity.

(Most of the pictures from this video are from Jenna!)

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