Monday, February 07, 2005

Daffy Taffy



A couple of years ago I was working in California, just North of San Francisco and on a day off I visited a place called Bodega Bay which is where Alfred Hitchcock shot the exteriors for The Birds.

Bodega Bay is an unprepossessing little place with not a lot to recommend it save for a great little Mexican diner and the possibility of experiencing weird cold fogs that roll off the ocean in the middle of summer.

Just outside the town I stopped at a roadside shed that promised 'Salt Water Taffy' which is something I'd never heard of. Maybe taffy made with the age-old tradition of hand collected sea water, I thought, one of those quaint things that sounds bizarre but actually tastes quite nice, the recipe having been lovingly handed down over generations by laconic elderly candy-makers with laugh wrinkles and plenty of time for a cheeky wisecrack at a young whippersnapper like myself. I went inside and marvelled at the hundreds of different flavours, and, savouring the possibility of banter with the locals asked the girl at the counter why it was called 'salt water' taffy.

She looked at me like I'd said "Klatuu barada nicto", chewed her gum once and said: "Because it's made near the ocean."

I bought a bag of the candy, went out and sat near the water and unwrapped what was essentially a chewy glob of sugar saturated with some incandescent alien 'apple' flavour. It was truly sick-making. Experimentally I threw one to the seagulls, wondering how many it would take to turn them into a hyperactive flock of murderous killers.

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