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Semi-sweet and a little nutty. Lover of zesty lime-green and dangerous shades of red. Adores cats and music, big on all things bright and beautiful. Still a work in progress.

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Month of the Sugar-Coated Haw

December 1, 2015

December is a special month to the Chinese, especially to the kids with a sweet-tooth. When winter comes, it brings along with it this delectable and peculiar candy: the sugar-coated haw. It's literally a kebab with about 10 round, succulent and bright-red haw fruits coated in a glistening layer of rock sugar. One bite into this zesty and sweet mixture and all the other candies in the world would fail to impress. 

As a child, December was The Month of the year for me. Every time when my mom brought me out to the streets, the first thing I do was to scan the streets for the rickshaws that carried these exotic satays. It was like the Chinese version of a child looking out for the ice-cream truck, except the rickshaws did not have those tinklikng silver bells. It was not hard to spot too. These rusty but speedy little vehicles usually carried an inflorescence on a wooden stem. The vendor would be paddling with all his might and yelling at the top of his lungs in dialect:" Sugar-coated haw! Sweet and sour snacks perfect for the winter!" His voice was like the Pied Piper's little flute that attracted the attention of all the little kids in the neighbourhood. A tug of mom's blue-gray coat, an exchange of smiles and the trading of a silver 1 dollar coin for an enjoyment of the winter. When the crystal-like coating shatters in a crisp resounding crack, the sandy texture coupled with the citrus flavor would melt into my mouth with the honey embrace of the sugar. As I left the crowd of elated children handing silver coins to the Uncle who extended his gnarled brown hands, I spotted a long-forgotten smile spread across his face as all his creases straightened out when he placed the coins into his embroided worn-out pouch. When all the kids hold a portion of his epic bouquet in their little chubby hands, he turns around and feels the the weight of his coin pouch before mounting his old, loyal bike contentedly. 

In 2015, as a retired kid but still retaining my sweet tooth, I want to try my hand at making sugar-coated haw kebabs. After all, childhood flavours are some our favourites and it sticks with us for the rest of our lives. Flavours seem to have this ability to scratch that itch of nostalgia and bring us back to a time where we wish we could go back to. Every bite into the sugar-coated haw is a reverie that unlatches the floodgates of warm, fuzzy memories. Well, I have my pots and pans, rock sugar and some cranberry substitutes. Wish me luck this December in recreating this treat to satiate my craving for a caramalised delight!

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