The Thirty Days of Christmas 11

In many ways I was psyched to get back to work to take my mind off of eating. Forced labor was the best way to keep gorging down to a minimum and to assistance in resisting temptation. And I had plenty of work, mind you. With final reports and Christmas pageants to organize, I barely had time to ingest anything, let alone a whole turkey, six cakes or a kilo of shrimp.

     That’s where the school headmaster came in to ensure I didn’t lose my momentum. Every morning before the staff straggled in, he would dump loads of Spanish Christmas goodies on a platter for us to snatch up whenever we wanted. I wanted often.

      I haven’t devoted much time to Christmas sweets, candies and cakes in this country, but I should because the subject has enough material to cover volumes. Probably the most famous sugary treat is the turrón, which might not say a lot to many readers who are unfamiliar with Spain. The Italians supposedly have a version known as torrone. But it would appear that it is a truly a Spanish invention and specialists generally point to the town of Jijona in Alicante in the east of Spain as a place where the original turrón came from. By original, I mean the version most often associated with the product, though not necessarily the most popular. This is the hard turrón, which is a flat brittle nougat mix of honey and almonds and sandwiched with two thin wafers. Those are classic sweet ingredients for Mediterranean cooking, especially where the Muslim influences was strongest. The hard version is a sturdy item, easily capable of keeping reserved for months if not years.

       But that is just the beginning, the tip of the iceberg, so I will summarize with a list just what you can find in many or most households:

  • Hard turrón
  • Soft turrón (made with an almond paste)
  • Chocolate turrón
  • White chocolate turrón
  • Almond turrón
  • Three-chocolate turrón
  • Turrón with pineapple
  • Puffed rice turrón
  • Yema tostada turrón
  • Truffle turrón
  • Sugared jelly fruit
  • Polverones
  • Chocolate polverones
  • Mantecados
  • Roscas de vino
  • Chocolate mantecados
  • Cocoanut mantecados
  • Marzipan
  • Pan de Cádiz
  • Macaroons
  • Candied almonds
  • Marquesa cakes
  • Glazed egg yolks
  • Glazed chestnuts
  • Figs
  • Dates
  • Dried apricots
  • Walnuts
  • Chestnuts
  • Panettone
  • Pan d’oro
  • Chocolate stuffed fig chocolates
  • Liquor filled cherries covered in chocolate

And it really does go on. And it really doesn’t end there.

     Those got me through the morning until I was able to make it home for lunch, where I had another round of fabada. Everyone knows fabada tastes better on the second day.

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