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Recovering from Turrón de Michigan and other holiday folly

Por: | 07 de enero de 2012

  IMG_8980ret-1 turron

Apart from a bit of teetotalling, I've never felt much need to cleanse my body after the holidays. My true vice is wine and apart from that, I don't particularly like sweets and tend to steer clear of them. Therefore, if I can manage to abstain for a few weeks during the month of January, I can usually get myself back on the healthy track. That is, until this year, when I decided that Christmas would be a wonderful time to recreate those confections that define the holidays in both my home country and my Spanish home.

For the American in me, I made Red Cross Fudge, a recipe from the 1940s that my parents have been making for as long as I can remember. Despite having to trek all over Madrid to buy marshmallows (the little ones work best), which I finally found at La Tienda Americana, this sinfully chocolatey-nutty fudge stirred up all the right feelings of nostalgia. You wouldn't think so, but the recipe makes a ton, which is nice because I was able to send friends and family home with ample boxes of it. This also meant that I have been gorging myself on this treat for two weeks straight, as if trying to stuff my tender memories of my childhood Christmas celebrations down my adult throat.

For my Spanish alter ego, I decided that this would be an excellent time to amaze my Spanish in-laws by making Jijona-style turrón, also called soft turrón, or turrón blando. I recently published an article in Spain Gourmetour magazine about this traditional confection, for which I traveled to Jijona in Alicante to learn about the turrón-making process. Made out of only sugar, honey and almonds, the Protected Geographical Indication Turrón de Jijona (along with the hard Turrón de Alicante) has been made there for hundreds of years. For some reason, I decided that I would be able to repeat this traditional and time-honored process in my humble kitchen. I was wrong.

I chose this recipe chiefly because it had photos. I was unable to find toasted ground almonds, so I toasted them myself and then ground them in the food processor using only the pulse button, as the recipe recommends. I followed the recipe to a tee, something that I seldom do, and in retrospect, I continue to be amazed by my own misguided over-confidence. To say that my turrón blando was soft would be a gross exaggeration. The color was more or less correct, and it had the appropriate flavors of almonds and honey. The texture however, when one managed to isolate a piece of it, was like 100 year-old salt-water taffy left in the Kalahari Desert. My Father in-law, a turrón connoisseur, diplomatically dubbed it Turrón de Michigan, in honor of my birthplace.

Having felt the need to finish both the fudge and the Turrón de Michigan (so as not to offend either), I briefly toyed with the idea of baking our roscón de Reyes, before deciding that enough was enough. I therefore decided to skip over Reyes altogether (in the culinary sense) and start the New Year with a cleansing diet inspired by the excellent Food Lover's Cleanse found in Bon Appetite magazine. I should point out that this is not a crazy maple-syrup-drinking, cabbage-soup-slurping, grapefruit-sucking cleanse, but rather a suggested menu of healthy and delicious food that fills your cupboards with things like quinoa and bulgur - minus the foie gras, caviar and bacon-wrapped dates, for example, that typically make the holidays so delightful.

Now, if only I can manage to extract my new favorite knife from the sticky-hard clutches of the remaining homemade "turrón", I might actually have a chance of getting healthy for the New Year.

Adrienne is a Madrid-based food and wine writer (

Hay 6 Comentarios

Our family(with 3 teens 14,17 and 20) had a lovely, informative and enjoyable tour with He was so knowledgeable(former art history professor) and really brought the art to life for our family. His special anecdotes and information made the enormity of the museum manageable, plus provided an excellent introduction to Spanish history.Afterwards, we had a stroll through some of the older neighborhoods and ended up in a typical local resteraunt for lunch. Later in our trip, when we went through the Picasso museum in Barcelona, my children were very interested in Picasso's interpretation of Velasquez's works-thanks to all they learned from Mr Satt. That is a great success to me!

Great article! but the picture is not the best I have seen. I'm a photographer so if any day you need a picture, you can contact me at Thank's

Muy buen articulo, gracias.

Muy buen articulo, gracias.

Thank you for your grammatical points. Unfortunately, I find that no matter how many times I review my text, there is usually something that I overlook.

You'll be glad to know that I have corrected the use of the apostrophe in 1940s and removed the hyphen from alter ego. However, I believe that it is not necessary to use italics given that it follows the precedent of not italicizing foreign words in common usage in the English language (pizza, chic, dachshund, etc.)

As a sommelier with a decade of experience in the Spanish wine industry, I graciously toast your grammatical prowess!

a) It is incorrect to use the apostrophe to express a decade: the 1940s, NOT the 1940's.
b) "alter-ego" should not have a hyphen between the two Latin words, which should have been formatted in italics.
c) Wine is never a vice: it's a disposition, but I doubt a US citizen would understand what I mean by that.

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Chris Finnigan is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona. He writes for Barcelona Metropolitan and is a book reviewer and reader for The Barcelona Review. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics. You can find him on twitter @chrisjfinnigan

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