Okay, I know I begin every entry apologizing for not updating more often and at this rate, I should just stop calling it a blog and publish it on a Gutenberg printing press and hand deliver it to all of you on a yearly basis. I’m sorry. Trying to make it as a writer/actress/filmmaker is very difficult and time-consuming and since the financial rewards at this stage are scant, I haven’t had much to write about in terms of food unless you consider adding fresh kale to your ramen noodles noteworthy.
But this past weekend, I took a break from writing and I went with some friends to Flushing for some Lunar New Year dim sum. We stopped into the New World Mall and on the second floor near a partially disbanded dragon dance troop of bored-looking teenagers, there was a small stand selling something called Dragon’s Beard Candy.
Also called “Chinese cotton candy,” legend has it that dragon’s beard candy was created for the emperor during the Han dynasty. According to the story, while tasting a confection that was made for him by the court chef, strands from the candy got stuck in the emperor’s beard. Since the dragon was an imperial symbol, it was named Dragon’s Beard Candy. Centuries later, the sweet treat was outlawed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, as the Communist Party sought to ban any vestiges of the decadence from the Han Dynasty.
Many decades after that, we found ourselves in a mall in Queens, where a crowd gathered around a man stretching candy by hand into gossamer sugar threads. The technique is similar to hand-pulled noodles but the product is far more delicate. The thin strands of sugar are wrapped around sesame and coconut and shaped into cocoons. It’s hardly ever mass-produced because it basically disintegrates after a few minutes.
We couldn’t resist and bought a box for $3. They felt like powdered sugar covered gauze. It was a little difficult to pick them up in one piece but they were delicious– nutty and sweet without being too sweet. But like summer loves and shooting stars, dragon’s beard candy is ephemeral and fleeting. We took the remaining candies home and they had already melted.
Such is life, I suppose. Nothing is permanent. Have a Happy Lunar New Year, nevertheless. May this year bring you health, wealth and plenty of dragon babies!