A week or so before Christmas I went off to our local Vietnamese butcher. The Vietnamese butcher is an off-shoot of the local Vietnamese baker (logical, innit?), and along with really good choice and good customer service they have good prices. Hence the visit. The occasion was a pre-Christmas BBQ with friends and I wanted some sausages.
Now before you wonder if this is a review of sausages, bear with me as I string you along – the meaty part is coming. After buying them and few other odds and ends, as I was paying, I saw what was on the counter:
Seeing as I don’t read or speak any Polish, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into, but even I could figure out the meaning of “KAKAO” on the label. And the label does tickle my fancy a little anyhow: “o smaku waniliowym z kakao”, which just translates as “vanilla-flavoured cocoa”.
So what on earth had I bought? It turns out to be Vanilla flavoured Halva with coca powder. More checking, both using Mr Google and the back of the pack reveals this is a sesame-based Halva – popular in much of the Middle East and obviously in a few other places as well – such as Poland.
Because the labelling is all Polish, apart from a small amount of English, I’d guess this is made for the domestic Polish market. The sticker indicates that it’s a special import so availability might be a difficult one.
I’m pretty sure I’ve tried Halva before, but I don’t know where or when. So this was a bit of a novelty, and opening the pack revealed even more of a novelty than I’d been expecting:
It’s close to white. Where is the chocolate? The Kakao?
Well, it is there. By looking very carefully you can see it in a few very thin layers, as though it’s been sandwiched in there. Then the pack tells more of the story: the cocoa content is a mere 0.6%: so little you can barely tell its there. Being the ingredients freak I am, the other interesting things are that sesame content is 48%, then comes sugar. And wow, can you ever tell about the sugar when you try it. The first impression is sweetness. I really struggled to detect anything chocolaty at all.
The texture is both powdery and sticky at the same time – which is very unusual, and until now something I considered impossible. Not unpleasant, just unusual. The rest of the family were fairly noncommittal about this one, but in spite of the huge sweetness and barely detectable chocolatiness, I quite liked it.
Not something for every day, but an interesting and curious change.