Food is memory. My memories of places are informed by the taste of the sweet things I ate there.
Pic n’ Mix in Scandinavia
Every time that I arrive at Malmö Central Station I walk straight into the Pressbyra store, grab a paper bag and fill it all the way up to the top with treats from the Karamelkungen candy wall. There’s gummy bears, fizzy glow worms, salty liquorice, bilar (indescribable “cars”) and, my favorites, “sugar cubes,” which, really, might as well be straight sugar cubes.
Pic n’ Mix, as we call it in the U.K. is one of the things I sorely miss about home — they don’t seem to do it here in the States. There has been many a time when a bag full of brightly colored and inventively shaped sweets have replaced actual meals for me. When I first arrived broke in London in 1999 I found a dream of a sweet shop, called Sweet Centres, that was crammed with hundreds of different types and too expensive for me to enjoy. When, about a week later, I got a job at a restaurant opposite the shop that’s where I spent my first tips.
I have enjoyed pic n’ mix in Australia, Chile, Argentina, Latvia, Estonia, France, Germany and the Czech Republic but the Scandinavian countries, I think, do it best, both in terms of variety and ubiquity.