Friday, 25 December 2009

The problem with Christmas..... that it never fails to arrive on the day you expect it to. The feverish run-up now starts mid October with premature glitter in the shops and a range of Christmas sweetmeats guaranteed to be stale by the time you are meant to eat them - at least, that's how it in here in Germany. I'm fairly immune to them because I can't stand mazipan, persipan, or any of their near relations, and German festive bakery is full of them. If it's had so much as a sniff of any of those ingredients, I can't eat it.
You may not want to know why, but I'll tell you anyway.
It's all because of my Auntie Blodwen. These days you would have to admit that Auntie Blodwen had a murky past. She married a vicar whose first wife had drowned herself leaving two small children behind. We don't know if Auntie Blodwen drove the poor woman to suicide, but if you'd ever tasted one of her almond-flavouring-soaked cakes, you might be tempted to think that was reason enough.
The problem with almond flavouring and its derivatives is that you can't see it. A perfectly harmless looking yellowish coloured cake can be concealing the nauseating stuff. If you like it, I suppose you can revel, but if you don't, then biting into a piece and finding your mouth full of it is totally awful.
My first and only experience of Auntie Blodwen's lavishly almond-flavoured cake was a lesson to me to always ask what is inside something rather than take it at face value. In order to avoid another confrontation I gave up cakes altogether and all through my childhood and even as a responsible adult, when in strange places or confronted with suspicious baking, I insisted on bread, butter and orange marmalade instead. I've eaten enough orange marmalade to last several lifetimes.
Fortunately, marzipan is slightly easier to spot than integrated almond flavouring, so a whole range of confectionary is recognizably inedible and can be avoided.
And anyone out there who eats the stuff voluntarily can be rest assured that they are welcome to it.

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