Monday, March 23, 2009

Strange candy made from flowers

By Tracy Anderson

Love, they say, is lovelier the second time around. But in Madrid, where violets are always blooming, love is sweeter thanks to a strange candy made from these flowers.

Violet candies may sound weird but they have been around since 1915 when local confectioner Mariano Gil opened his first store in Spain.

Situated at Plaza de Canalejas 6, La Violeta is the original home of these sweet treats that have a distinctly floral flavor. The store sells both sugar coated violet petals and small, flower-shaped candies flavored with violet essence.

The purple sweets are elegantly packaged in glass and porcelain cases and are quite expensive. The natural violets cost about $150 while a pound of violet candies sell for about $60. But these candies have a lot of faithful followers, we are told, including the wife and mistress of former King Alfonso of Spain.

"Their taste can be a little odd for those who are not used to flower essences in food, but their sweetness and unique flavor make them a very sought after souvenir from this city," according to Wendygital.Com.

"Nowadays, in Madrid, it's getting more and more common to see new creations based on this traditional candy, as many renowned avant-garde chefs from around the world use them as the star ingredient for their new dessert recipes. Even some specialized stores offer cute little bottles of violet liquor and tiny jars of jam made of violet petals," it added.

In case you don't know, violets have long been used to decorate salads or in stuffing for poultry and fish. Many desserts are flavored with violet essence.

Violet candies are usually made from the species Viola odorata that is known for sweet smelling flowers that are either dark violet or white. Its other names are Sweet Violet, English Violet or Common Violet.

"A candied violet or crystallized violet is a flower, usually of Viola odorata, preserved by a coating of egg white and crystallized sugar. Alternately, hot syrup is poured over the fresh flower (or the flower is immersed in the syrup) and stirred until the sugar recrystallizes and has dried," explained the editors of Wikipedia.

Fortunately, not everyone can go to Spain and try this strange candy. But don't worry. There are many ways of expressing your love. And if you can't afford to buy these flowery treats for your loved ones, sending flowers will often do the trick.

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