Wednesday 14 December 2016

Sweet Tooth

Listen to the audio version of this post:
Churros at the Christmas Market, photographed by SWTliving
Ever since I was little, I've loved sweet things. Cookies, candy, chocolate, cake, ice cream, you name it. It's crazy the number of sweet things there are in the world. And sometimes people get really creative and make combinations of sweet things. Like, cookies and cream ice cream, or strawberry cheesecake cookies, or ice cream cake. One time I had Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream. There's like, at least 7 different confections/desserts in that name (chocolate, fudge, brownie, cream, ice cream, chocolate fudge, chocolate fudge brownie). 

I still remember my reaction when I bought it, "Really? How is this even a thing?!" Then I ate it and found out, "OH that's why. Of course this has to be a thing".

I'm not entirely sure how I became so fond of sweets, but I vaguely recall a childhood memory where my father took my family to visit a friend of his in Sarawak, Malaysia. This man we went to visit lived in the forest. Or perhaps he owned a plantation which I mistook for a forest. I can't remember exactly. I was maybe 8 years old. 

We were lounging in his living room, and the adults were talking to each other. Nothing particularly interesting was happening at the time. But then that man said "It's time for lunch", and he called in his dayang-dayang (maids) and told them to serve lunch. And they left the living room and came back moments later carrying trays of cookies and cakes. I grew wide-eyed and I asked "you have this for lunch?!" To which he responded, "yes, I only ever eat sweets. I don't eat rice because I'm allergic to it". 

That just blew my mind. Instantly this man became my hero. Sweets for lunch?! Yes! 

I must say though, although I can recall this story, and I attribute my sweet tooth mainly to this formative experience in my early life, I can't say that I'm 100% sure that this isn't just my imagination. I'll have to ask my parents if they remember this happening.  

Perhaps, in fact, my fondness for sweets is partly due to me being from Malaysia, where there's sugar in literally everything. There's even sweet main dishes (sambal, rendang, gulai, sweet and sour chicken, pineapple chicken, just to name a few). Not to mention all the desserts! 

Just kidding! Of course I'll mention 'em: Some Malay desserts are ABC, cendol, kuih makmur, and of course dodol! That last one's basically just sugar and coconut milk. It takes a lot of effort to make. Malays are serious about their desserts. 

Here's an excerpt from the Wikipedia page for dodol describing the preparation process for this gooey dessert:
Dodol is made from coconut milkjaggery, and rice flour, and is sticky, thick and sweet. It normally takes up to 9 hours to cook. During the entire cooking process, the dodol must be constantly stirred in a big wok. Pausing in between would cause it to burn, spoiling the taste and aroma. The dodol is completely cooked when it is firm, and does not stick to one's fingers when touching it.     
You see, dessert is serious business where I'm from. Yes, dodol takes hours to make, and you gotta keep stirring it. And it gets really really sticky and firm towards the end so it really takes a lot of energy to stir it at that point.  I'd know because I've made dodol once, when I was little. Well, actually, my mum made the dodol, with her friend, and I helped too. We took turns stirring, literally for hours. But the end result was so worth it! 

That's me having a Cendol in a restaurant called Sampurna (meaning perfection) in Amsterdam
Then there's the indian desserts, like laddu, kesari, kheer (or, as I've always known it in Tamil, payasam), and gulab jamun. All of these desserts are super sweet, and taste like they have bucket loads of sugar. I've made laddu and gulab jamun before, so I know for a fact that those do have lots of sugar in them. 

I used to make these Indian treats for friends, but I stopped since no one would eat them because everyone found them too sweet. It tasted great to me though. But then again, I always play it a little fast and loose when it comes to sugar in my recipes. 

A fruit tart
We've established that I like dessert. So it should come as no surprise that when I travel, I like to try many different desserts too! In fact, my first ever instagram photo was of different toppings at at frozen yogurt place in Nice. 

This is the photo I chose to use as my debut on Instagram
When I came to France, I discovered all the delicious French pastries and instantly knew that I would not have too much of a hard time in this country. It's not just the French desserts either; It's great that Italian deserts and other European desserts are more accessibly priced here, so I get to have lots of 'em. Two years ago, when I went to London for holiday in December, I had the time of my life visiting all the candy stores and loading myself up on sweets and desserts. 

M&M World. It's 4 levels of fun!

Just look at how happy I am

I even had pretend tea time with Alice, the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit
I've just scrolled through the photos in this post again, and what I've realized is, I'm smiling really big and happily in each one I'm in! Clearly I do like my sweets and thoroughly enjoy indulging my sweet tooth. 

And this is probably why now I have a hole in my tooth. All the sweets at inappropriate moments of the day, and the lack of flossing. 

It turns out, when you eat desserts is important. Apparently, eating desserts after a meal is not so bad for the teeth. Especially since we're supposed to brush our teeth after meals. It's when you have sweets at odd hours that the plaque-forming bacteria get the chance to multiply and wreak their havoc. 

So today's lesson is: With proper dental care, it's okay to indulge your sweet tooth. Enjoy your dessert everyone, but don't forget to clean your teeth!


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