Having spent a fair amount of time in China, I feel that I can safely say that I am familiar with the Chinese conception of candy and dessert. And their conception, to be quite frank, blows. Red bean popsicle, anyone? How about green jelly nougat? Or a bean-paste-filled donut? When it comes to matters of the sweet tooth, the Chinese don't have a clue. During my six month sojourn, I would seriously have given my right arm for a twin pop. You know, just one of those blue, red, or yellow (sometimes there's grape and rootbeer flavored, too)popsicles that comes in a huge bag for like $1 at the grocery store? Instead, I opted for the $5 Haagen Daaz bar at the Sheraton Hotel. It became quite an expensive habit, to be honest, especially when you factor in the cab fare and the inevitable purchase of another one for the road. But where else was I going to get my dessert fix? Coming back to "The States," as those crazy "ex-pats" over in China call it, I was thrilled to have access to all the candy I was familiar with, not a red bean or a rice ball in sight. I swore off all Chinese candy for good (refusing to drink the Peanut Juice often brought to our Chinese food potluck parties by people just getting back from Taiwan--PEANUT JUICE!) and lived happily ever after.
Recently, however, we had a visit from a friend who lives in Japan full time. He brought us some candy, and I thought "here we go again. I'd better brace myself for bean paste." The candy came in a bright blue and green bag with a gorilla and a rabbit (each holding a male mallard duck and wearing traditional Japanese kimonos)on the front. In Japanese it reads "Magic Mushrooms." The other bag contains two types of candy, one called "Ghana" and the other called "Crunky." I have a sinking suspicion that by "Crunky" they mean "Crunchy" as was often the case with the English written on T-shirts and labels in China ("Party Girl" became Pasty Grile" and so forth). Let me tell you, I had the biggest shock in the world when both the Magic Mushrooms and the Ghana and Crunky were DELICIOUS. The Crunky, in particular, are breath-taking, and I know my crunchy chocolate products.
What did I learn? Don't judge a book by its cover and don't lump all Asian candy under the category of "Chinese." Cause some of it is better than a gluten chew.