Lately, I've found that there are few activities as enchanting as watching candy being pulled. I’m mesmerized by the way it’s kneaded and elongated.
Last week, video-making collective Great Big Story ran a pretty mesmerizing segment about a South Korean man who’s dedicated his life to making yeot. It's a confection made of white rice, ginger, bellflower seasoning, and moistened barley seeds. Upon completion, it takes on the consistency of taffy. The process of making yeot is laborious and rewarding; the subject of this particular video belongs to a family who's been making yeot for four decades, and this tradition was passed on through the men in his family.
It’s a lovely video, and it sent me tunneling down a candy-pulling rabbit hole. So many countries and cuisines across the world have their own variant of what Americans may know as taffy. Let’s begin with what may be the most obvious—taffy-pulling in the United States:
Pretty, no? In Turkey, there’s macun, an Ottoman-era sweet made from toffee paste stretched to oblivion and served as street food. It often comes in a rainbow motley of colors, corresponding to various flavors, from bergamot to rose, mint to plum.
In Japan, there’s amezaiku, an art that stretches back to the 8th century and involves taking softened, heated candy and creating delicate sculptures from it:
My favorite, though, might be chaku in Nepal. I'd describe its taste and texture as being similar to molasses: it's brown and sweet, derived from ghee and milk and topped with coconut shavings or dates. Look at this dude go! He treats it like a sport.
It’s an objectively disgusting day in New York, site of a blizzard named Stella. I’m watching these videos to get me through the day; honestly, it’s hard to stop.
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What mesmerizing food videos are you ogling at while you're cooped up (or, ahem, bored at work)? Let us know in the comments.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.