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Sunday, 8 January 2012

Incredible Chinese candy: sugar lollipops (糖画:龙)

Like the other Chinese candy articles I've posted, this is another example of taking something very simple, chucking incredible skill and clever fingers at it and casually turning it into an artform that is so transitory that you eat it.

This first video isn't great and I'm not even sure what he's making. It appears to be some kind of bear in a hat or something, I dunno. But what you see at the start is that he's heating sugar off-screen and testing its consistency on the slab in front of him - usually the slabs are made of marble, but this one appears to be plastic. Then it's just a case of ladelling out the melted sugar into an intricate pattern. Ignore the thing he's actually making (give me a break; it's hard to find these videos) and note the technique and then look at the incredible dragon on the right of the screen. Wow!

This second video shows the whole process. Traditionally, each craftsman (confectioner?) would have a pre-chosen set of designs based on the Chinese zodiac and other images. You paid your money and then spun a... uh, spinner and where the arrow ended up was the shape he would do for you. Although most of the lollipop sellers will have many shapes in common with each other, they all have their own unique style of doing them.

Oh and at the end of this second video, there's a guy who's decided that incredibly intricate designs aren't enough on their own and he's decided to go 3D with it all. Crikey! I'm sure that if we check back on him in another couple of years, he'll have lollipops that can move...

Since my wife came to live in Britain, it's been my job to introduce her to British culture. One thing I've particularly tried to show her is the range of traditional British sweets. It's not gone terribly well:

"And these are what we call mint humbugs."

"And what do they do?"

"Do? They don't do anything. You put them in your mouth and eat them."

"What? They don't even transform into giant robots or require fifty years of training to make? Your sweets suck."


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