Last August, I was standing in a candy store in Spain looking for an interesting sweet for my students. It was like standing inside of a sweetened rainbow; everywhere you looked, there were bins full of individual candies. I didn’t just want anything that tasted great. I wanted something that looked unusual, maybe even intimidating. My Spanish friends recommended Pikotas. Without even trying one, I scooped the entire bin into a bag and readied myself for this fun school assignment.
You can’t tell what a Pikota looks like from the outside. The wrapper is cherry-red with “P!kotas” written in white bubble letters on the outside. Once you open it, it’s as if the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker just gave you a treat. Pikotas sparkle and glimmer. The crystallized sugar that coats the small, marble-sized ball isn’t white though; it’s the same dark, cherry-red color as the wrapper.
When I put the Pikota up to my lips, the sugar coating felt like fine-grade sandpaper. On my tongue, the candy bumped along it. I was immediately struck by a sweet, fruity flavor similar to Hawaiian Punch. During the first few moments the Pikota was in my mouth, I let the candy roll from side to side next to my teeth. Then it happened—I bit down. The grainy sugar coating split and cracked, revealing a soft center. It reminded me of a jellybean, but with a rough, sugary coating. My mouth was rewarded for its impatience. That bite led to a burst of cherry flavor that exploded on my tongue. It was like a firework that has a second blast of color. Unfortunately, when it was over and the candy was gone, I longed for another Pikota to pop into my mouth. Good thing I bought the store out of its Pikotas!
The Pikotas proved to be the perfect candy for my Unusual Foods assignment. You can only get them in Spain—making them unusual. Once you get past the rough exterior, you realize these intensely sweet cherry treats are truly tasterific.