Where can you enjoy all of these things in one place? Yes! Toledo, Spain, a mere 33 minutes by Spain’s AVE, high speed train from Atocha station, Madrid.
Let’s start with what is marzapan/marzipan/marzepan? It is a confection of sugar or honey and an almond paste. Marzapan is often formed into fruit shapes and colored to look like apples, pears, bananas, grapes etc. It is also used to decorate elaborate cakes, or just covered with chocolate. Marzapan is most often seen during the winter holiday season.
When I was a young child I would sometimes be invited to my great-grandmother’s house which now belongs to the local historical society. Gramma Grayce was a very thrifty woman and as such she was stingy with treats. I was allowed one piece of marzapan fruit and one only. It was a big deal to a 6 year old. The marzapan usually lasted about 15 or 20 minutes melting in my mouth.
So, those of you who have had marzapan are now thinking…how did she keep from swallowing or chewing for that long? It was not difficult, because many years later I learned that gramma Grayce had kept that box of marzapan in the house for several years, just in case she had company. This was no longer marzapan … It was now rock candy! And, no one ever did visit, except me! Marzapan is soft, not a hard candy; and Toledo, Spain is famous for its marzapan.
So, did I purchase marzapan in Toledo? YES, fresh, soft, delicious marzapan! If you are watching from the other side gramma, that was a dirty trick to play on a 6-year old.
Walk up the street with me (yes, up, because Toledo is built on a steep hillside) to the imposingly interesting Alcazar.
A square building with 4 turrets, one on each corner with more than 8 floors to climb. The interesting part of this structure is that each side is different, because it was restored under four different rulers over hundreds of years. It is now a military museum and the La Mancha regional library.
Imposing Alcazar standing guard over the old city of Toledo.
Unlike other historic cities, Toledo is not surrounded by modern structures. The new city of Toledo is at the bottom of the hill. All of the original buildings and cobbled street are much like they were in the past, with the exception of shops along the streets.
Can you see it? Look closely.
I felt it before I saw it. Cool, wet, soft.
Yep, every 30 seconds a mist would be emitted from tubing in the umbrella to keep the diners refreshed.
Cellphone, schmellphone. When you live in a small town, just walk over to your neighbor and call up to the balcony. You not only save money, but you get some hill-walking exercise as well.
Can you believe that cars actually drive these streets? When you hear one coming, you pop into the next doorway and watch your toes. Uphill again!
Did I mention that Toledo is built on a BIG hill?
And, as we continue up the hill who do we see, but Don Quixote and his sidekick Santo, plus me and my two friends. Do you notice that I dressed to match (somewhat) the breastplate of Don Quixote’s?
As I speak with people along my travels, there seems to be a trend that younger people do not know The Man From La Mancha, Don Quixote or the famous name Cervantes.
Although they may not have known the name Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote is world famous. Cervantes is credited, in the literary world with the first best seller, which now has been translated into 60 languages; and, it has been reported that several world famous writers as well as Pablo Picasso were influenced by Miguel de Cervantes story of an old man who “tilted at windmills”.
The moral of the story is to dream the impossible dream, fol!ow your heart, no matter what others may say or think.
Perhaps this will encourage you to dream!!