Trying out Marzipan in Toledo, Spain

I switched from my vertical position, into a slightly forward bend, then moved to a squat, and finally back to my vertical position: my neck slightly stretched, my soles lifted off the ground,and my nose almost rubbing the glass window of Santo Tome Mazapan. My body, unconsciously followed my eyes, as I keenly inspected the displayed model of a cathedral; with all the lines and curves that make up its windows, doors, roof, gate and all the statues including the twelve disciples. Before i could complete my appraisal of the cathedral, my eyes were captured by the beauty of two pale white theatrical masks, each adorned with a flower head piece,orange blush, and red lips. All looking very real! All too captivating! It was, as if I was looking at props to be used in a Shakespearean play.

Marzipan, marzipan shops, and marzipan artisans seem to be one of the top attractions of Toledo. When you stand at the central square, you will notice more than five Marzipan shops, all displaying artistic models of Toledo’s popular landmarks made from the sweet almond paste. It is said that the original recipe, and the art of moulding Marzipan was introduced by nuns!

With one hand rolling my phone between my index finger and thumb, while the other pulled the inside of my jacket pocket, I tried my best to maintain a collected composure on my face, while I ignored my stiffened legs, firmly anchored on the floor, as I waited for my turn at the ordering counter. There was a family of four, ahead of me: The eldest son, about high school age, kept tagging on his younger brother’s shoulder, moving him across the display, while their mother tried her best to maintain an unbreakable smile for the cashier, and all of us at the back, while gesturing her husband for some cash. They had been at the counter for what seemed like hours, in ordering terms, and they were still undecided and far from finished. I could feel the itch of trying something new, as I continued to feast my eyes on the elaborate display of beautifully coloured marzipan models made in shapes of: stars, moons, toys and buildings, behind the glass on my left. When it was finally my turn; I picked a moon shaped marzipan. It did not take me long to make my choice, I had visualized the sweet in my mouth a number of times, while watching them so neatly arranged on gold plated trays. I ripped the wrapping off, and took a bite of the sweet almond paste delicacy as soon as the cashier handed me the little brown package.

Soft, fragrant, sweet with some hidden bitterness that was the taste of my first Toledo Marzipan. Was this the real deal? Is this what people travel across the world for? Probably, but I personally did not like Marzipan. I was not fond off the hint of bitterness through out the soft dough, or the slightly sour/acidic smell it oozed once it was in my mouth. I suppose it takes a bit of getting used to, just as one would when drinking an espresso, for the first time. I don’t think I had the best first impression of Marzipan but putting the disappointment aside, I was glad that I was soon going to discover the other attractions Toledo has to offer.

Did I mention that Toledo is famous for three things: Swords, damascene and MARZIPAN!

I will tell you all about the swords of Toledo in my next blog entry including the famous Excalibur!

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