Guys, I know I'm no Donnie, I know I'm not as cool or as cultured as him and don't have the Rangoon frying prowess that he does, but I do have an intense love for travel, and for Eastern Europe in particular. I'd venture to say I'm a bit of a world traveler (I'm not sure if you heard but I went to Spain once and my favorite thing about travel is trying the cuisine de locale (local food).
Now I'm not certain when I'll ever be able to hop on a Spirit flight and head to Moscow, but I'm getting the itch. So I hopped on the good old internets and started web traveling; imagining all of the local Russian food I'll be able to feast on.
I stumbled on their vast collection of local candies. And boy are they... exotic. To be real, many are bizarre. So in the interests of international amity, I thought I'd do everyone a solid and rank the Russian Candies from worst to best.
10. Rakovye: Lobster/Crayfish Tail Candy
Do I love to eat the tails of a crustacean? YES! It's my favorite. Do I love caramel/chocolate treats? Also YES. Rakovye Sheyki - or Crayfish Tails actually have no relation or connection to crayfish except that the caramel treats used to remind people of the bottom part of the crayfish... That's what they say at least. Do you remember Caramel apple candy from back in your childhood? This candy gives me that level of nostalgia-- not just in how it tastes but how eating too many is likely to rip out a filling and land you right in the "zubnoiy", (literally tooth doctor), which is a science, to be honest, that has only recently left the Dark Ages in Russia in the past 15 years.
9. Gematogen (Bull’s Blood Infused Chocolate Bar)
Excuse me? Bull's blood? This is like the Russian candy version of blood sausage or haggis. Which, btw, I got tricked into eating when I was in a Scottish pub on a trip to play St. Andrews (NBD) and it was SO pungent I had to throw away the entire outfit I wore that night at the bar because it smelled so gross, like intestines and everything that you'd find inside of sheep's innards. Back to the candy, though. According to the Russians, this candy is considered "a nutrition bar" and an over the counter supplement to treat anemia and iron deficiency… because of its high hemoglobin content.
8. Pomadka (Russian Milk Fudge)
For those fluent in Polish, this translates to "lipstick". It's also very popular in Russia. This fudge has two layers, the outer shell and the (cough cough) fudge lipstick poking out of the case. It was hugely popular in Soviet times because of its creamy taste and the fact it was easy to make. Pomadka only consists of butter, milk, and sugar. The delight remains popular to this day and lots of tourists who visit the Volga Region buy it to take home. I'm… luke warm on this.
7. Churchkhela: Translates to Erect Whale's penis
An initial glimpse suggests candlesticks or lumpy sausages, not a hanging mass of nuts. If you're a fan of soybeans in the pod, stalagmites (icicles) in a cave, or upside down Hannukuh candles that have been melted and remelted for many years, the Churchkhela candy might be for you. This candy is made by tying walnuts, hazelnuts, or almonds on a string. Then, candy makers repeatedly dip the strand in a mixture of concentrated grape juice, sugar, and flour, building up layers of thick, waxy fruit syrup. After about five days of air-drying, the finished product has a lengthy shelf life.
I'm out on this. All of it is a no for me dawg.
6. Rot Front: aka Vienna Sausage candies
Rotfront is not just a sweat-inducing mix of ukrainian reggae, hungarian garage-rock, ska, klezmer and hip-hop (my new favorite genre). Its also a nutty candy that looks like a canned piece of meat or a chubby baby finger. A praline with grated peanut, cocoa-powder and chopped wafers. I think it might taste better than it looks. I'll give it a try. Who knows? Maybe I'll attempt to make some of these.
5. Kartoshka (Russian Potato Cakes)
Now TECHNICALLY this is more of a confection or baked good than a "candy" per se. It looks delightful. Another Russian delicacy that looks eerily tuber like. But if you're not into potato, (which would be sort of sad) have no fear, these little cakes, sometimes shaped like tubers and decorated with nuts or frosting, don’t actually contain potato. This kartoshka is made from cake or cookie crumbs, typically glued together with butter, sgushyonka (sweetened condensed milk), cocoa powder, and perhaps a splash of rum or cognac. No baking is required—like a truffle, the formed kartoshka just needs to rest in the fridge for a while.
Did you say rum? Yum yum.
4. Marmalade Slices
"Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir. Be your lady Marmalade…." Is it just me or does this candy make you want to throw on a little Christina Aguilera? Marmalade slices are a classic treat made in the shape of a citrus wedge. Each little candy has a light layer that resembles the peel, and the transparent part – the pulp. It looks like a real lemon or orange wedge. It is tangy, enticing, delicious, and also affordable!
While I LOVE chocolate, my heart is with sour candy. This shit is RIGHT up my alley. It looks like something you'd find at Sweet Factory. Not only do I love the texture of gummy candy, but I am also particularly fond of the juxtaposition of the gritty texture of the sugar on top of the gooey treat. IT ALSO LOOKS SO CUTE!!!
3. Ptichye Moloko (Bird’s Milk Chocolates)
I was personally not aware that birds feed their babies milk. That is where the name of this candy comes from. The souflee inside is white, like milk, of the bird feeding variety. Imagine tender airy soufflé with rich creamy flavor, complemented with soft biscuit and a thin layer of fine quality dark chocolate. This is the cake of your dreams, and which all Russians know as ptichye moloko. I am all in on this confection. I think it very much could be my top if I wasn't more of a sucker for lollicocks.
2. Mishka Kosolapy (Russian Chocolate Covered Praline Wafers)
Ah, the Russian Bear. The iconic image of the Soviet Union, so much so the nickname of the Red Army in World War II was literally "The Claws of the Bear." So no wonder that this very delicious looking praline nougat between two wafers, covered with chocolate, is a national obsession. People LOVE their Mishkas, so much so that the bear that served as the mascot for the 1980 Summer Olympic Games -- the one the U.S. and the Western nations boycotted -- was named Mishka. Gotta say, these look pretty damn goo.
1. Petushok: Russian Lollipop
In Russia, the world-famous lollipop ("petushok") is a matter of national pride, with a particular flavor and its own history. In medieval Russia the first lollipops became popular with the appearance of sugar in the 13th century. At that time, sugar was expensive and only aristocrats could afford it.Children quickly fell in love with the sweet delight, which can be made in any form. Today, the rooster is preferred because it's a magical and regal bird in Russian fairytales.
I mean… Cock sucker, cock on a stick… golden cock… This candy gets the win just for that. Oh Russians! I am unsure why the world consistently underrates your witty, wry humor, but they shouldn't.
PS Does it strike anyone as odd that Russia, one of the most homophobic nations in the world, has so many phallic shaped candies? Makes one think …