Swedish Fish… from Sweden
Seeing that today is Halloween, it seems rather timely that I’d want to write about candy. I don’t mean that sweet sugary candy corn that I happen to adore, nor those mini individually wrapped chocolate bars that children will watch drop into their big trick or treat bags or plastic pumpkins. I’m not thinking of American candy at all, even if we Americans like to think of Swedish fish as our own. You know those classic, red, chewy candies shaped like fish, with the word “Swedish” embossed on them, that stick to your teeth no matter what you do? Well, I’m actually thinking of the Swedish fish that the Swedes proudly call their own. Along with a diverse range of candy, one that won’t remain unknown for long, thanks to Swede, Lena Rosen.
Living in Paris for 20 years and having to deal with “way too sweet” French candy, Lena (on the right in photo) opened Käramell, her Scandinavian sweets shop, on April 1st. A perfect coincidence it would seem – that day is Poisson d’Avril in France. While Americans are busy playing April fools jokes on each other, French children are sticking paper fish on each other’s backs. Surely a good omen for her Swedish fish to take over Paris. In the area just south of Montmartre, Lena’s boutique is bright and colorful, and with a table of Swedish clogs just out front, plus a large, bright pink K on the door, you can’t miss it. Extremely friendly and outgoing, both Lena and Parisian Alexandra are more than happy to tell you about each and every candy in the bins, and point out their (numerous) personal favorites, with fun anecdotes along the way.
So those favorites… Lena led me directly to the salted licorice candies. Salted licorice? Ah yes, a true delicacy up north! It’s definitely an acquired taste, which some people will certainly not enjoy, comparing it more to ammonia or an old Camembert (actual customer reactions). However, for others, once they try it, they are hooked. The ladies told me a 13 year old girl comes by almost every day for her fill of salted licorice candies, available in at least 20 different varieties in the shop.
Overall, Swedish candies are made with less sugar than American and French versions. Especially those Swedish fish, called Pastellfisk in Swedish. They are paler in color, softer in texture, and quite superior to those stateside, sorry to say. Let’s put it this way: they don’t stick to your teeth! However, I can’t speak as enthusiastically about the black Swedish fish, totally different. They are not translucent like the fruit flavored ones, and have the Swedish manufacturer’s name, Malaco, embossed on the front. They have a very strong flavor, hence their Swedish name, Salt Sill, which means salt herring! A bit too strong for me. I’ll stick with the fruit gummies and hard candies. There are so many other colorful fun sweets to try, chocolates and caramels too, even some French items on the shelves and a selection of jams. So don’t be turned off if you don’t think you’ll like the salty licorice. You just might! I didn’t, but am already planning my next visit – for a friendly chat with Lena and Alexandra, and for a big bag full of candy imported from Sweden, where Lena tells me children are born with a piece of candy in their mouths, instead of a silver spoon.Käramell 15 rue des Martyrs 75009 Paris France +188.8.131.52.91.77
Until their website is up and running, here are two fun sites to check out: