Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Congolese Candy

When I was finally recuperating but couldn’t quite handle the thought of real food, I sent Olivier out to buy some lollipops, which I knew existed because I had seen them when out in the market on Christmas Eve.

So he brought me some lollipops, named FORT POP and wrapped in shiny plastic.

And there is only one way I can describe the flavor:

Sugared Milk.

Literally, if you took powdered milk, and sugared it, and mixed it up with water and goo and put it on a stick, it would be a Fort Pop.

Which made Adam and I wonder if Congolese children are being unknowingly hoodwinked into ingesting milk, like those cruel parents who give their children carrot sticks as treats?

When I asked Polycarpe why the candy tasted like milk, he said, “it’s not milk, it’s sugar!!” and laughed. He was clearly hoodwinked too!

But I gave Adam the rest of the lollipops and he confirmed it absolutely: MILK. Now, there really are no varieties of sweets here (probably for our benefit) but we wondered if perhaps the idea of candy is just.... different? Chocolate here, when I’ve seen it in Goma (though very rare) is bland and flavorless milk chocolate.

Children do, however, eat sugar cane right off the stalk. Often, as a dinner! What was the deal?

Just when our sympathies were going out to hoodwinked Congolese children everywhere, a neighbour girl came by to offer us some “New Year’s Sweets” which turned out to be sort of peanut brittle.

Peanuts, cooked in sugar and water, and formed into little balls! They were actually DELICIOUS and I think Adam is secretly hoping that the girl comes back today to sell us more. Like Peanut Brittle, yes, but without that awful sticky, heavy, gooey peanut brittle thing that always happens.

So go figure! We’re not sure what to make of it, other than that we’ll pass the next time someone offers us a milk lollipop.

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