Turkish delight was always a mystery to me. When I was in elementary school I read about it in C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. You know the story, yes? Edmund meets the White Witch while traipsing through the wintry Narnia. The Witch, representing all that is evil (of course satan is a woman duh), lures him in by offering the magical treat. Using the trick of every sidewalk crack dealer (or so I’ve heard) she gives him the first taste of Turkish delight for free. After that he can only get more if he does her bidding. A food powerful enough to make a kid sell his soul to the devil. Tell me more!
Now, as an ignorant young child the only turkey I knew of was the gobble-gobble kind we ate for Thanksgiving. Turkey the country? Nope, sorry. Never heard of it. It was only later when I was a bit older and received a globe for Christmas that I discovered there was a country named Turkey. Do they have a lot of turkeys there, I wondered? I thought it peculiar to name a country after a bird. Though not as peculiar as the country of Chad which happened to share the same name as a doofus boy in my class.
While I would grow up to become slightly more knowledgeable about many things, including geography, I read the The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in my pre-globe era. Thus, I was consequently left with the lasting impression that this “turkish delight” must be tasty morsels of turkey meat. Sometimes at night, before I fell asleep, I salivated at the thought of this savory snack.
But it turns out it’s not meat at all. (You knew this already though, right? You are so much smarter than me!) While I’m sure I realized at some point that Turkish delight referred to some kind of food from the country of Turkey, I still didn’t really know what it was. In fact, I can neither confirm nor deny that it was not until I read this Slate article published in 2005 (which would have made me, oh, about 26 years old) that I realized it was candy. Candy! Imagine that.
Anyway, even after reading the article I still had only a vague idea of what it was. So last week when I found myself traveling through Turkey (the country), I knew that trying this mysterious candy would be a top priority.
Have you tried it for yourself? No? Well, folks, I’m going to save you all the confusion I once experienced. I’m going to tell you exactly what it is:
Gumdrops and marshmallows. That’s it. Gumdrops and marshmallows.
Now, it’s good gumdrops and marshmallows. When it’s fresh the little squares are squishy and soft. Though, as the article describes, they do also kind of stick to your teeth a bit, so if you have loose dental work I would recommend steering clear. But it’s tasty. Would I sell my soul to satan for more? No. But I did bring some back as gifts for my host mom and coworkers and it was a hit.
So here is a close-up for your viewing pleasure. Now you don’t have to live in the ignorance and confusion I once found myself. I feel good about pulling back the cover on this mysterious confection. It’s yeoman’s work, but important work. Enjoy!