I’m on a Swiss train waiting impatiently to feel hungry so I can eat the mandelhoernli I have laid up in my handbag. To some extent, I don’t even like them.
I bought the first one on my first trip to Germany. I was lured by a number of factors.
Look at the way those flaked almonds glisten. (Mmmm…flaked almonds.) That sheen of sugar syrup suggested that the almonds would have softened just enough to yield beneath my teeth rather than splinter on impact and be lost to things like floors or railway upholstery.
I assumed dense and moist – desirable characteristics in cakes and breads.
The glossy dark chocolate would get the gustatory exploration off to a pleasing, if familiar, start and provide something to look forward to at the end, like the top square on snakes and ladders.
They looked like they would be a meal unto themselves and sturdy enough to retain structural integrity in cramped quarters.
Who knows, maybe even the shape played a role. It was a package deal.
All of those things came to pass but I did not anticipate the marzipan flavour and it was that which nearly rendered me a one-mandelhoernli woman. I like almonds but, once they are rendered pasty, you’ve lost me.
However, the next time I was in Germany the luscious mandelhoernli exterior beckoned from beneath the glass counter at the local store. To buy and try (and probably dislike) or give them the flick forever: that was the question.
I had to give them another opportunity to be as nice as they looked. I considered the taste a surmountable hurdle in light of the texture. It was (maybe) marginally better than the previous time. And then irrationality kicked in. The perversity cannot be explained, but that is the nature of hope (and greed). I persisted with this once a year for several years despite the absence of any nutritional benefit and with just enough gains in pleasure to entice me back.
Curiously, the offending marzipan flavour has reduced over time. Perhaps the baker has gone a bit easier with the marzipan jar or perhaps my negative expectation reduces my experience of it. Perhaps… Whatever. Now I enjoy them.
With sheer persistence you too could add a junk food to your diet.
And while we’re on the subject of taste, what’s more important to you – flavour or texture? Are you a light and fluffy, a dry and crumbly, a moist and dense or something else?