Sugar Daddy


Don’t waste your pucker on some all day sucker
And don’t try a toffee or cream
If you seek perfection in sugar confection
Well there’s something new on the scene

Should you be heading down the avenue Aristide Briand in Loches, you’ll see some colourful signs for Confiserie Hallard, an artisan sweet maker. Jean-Damien Hallard makes lollipops, sweets, the French speciality berlingots, nougat, fruit jellies, pralines and nougatines. In his workshop, while his assistant works in the background, he is a born entertainer, making sure visitors all have a go at stretching a handful of semi-liquid coloured sugar until it strains into two tones, then twisting it round a stick in a perfect or imperfect spiral. This, after viewing a detailed film on how cane and beet sugar are produced. Watching him brought back memories of the glassworkers of Murano, an island I visited when I was 17. The molten sugar – coloured and flavoured – bends and slithers and flows in similar fashion, like a translucent, tame, sleepy snake. The visit also reminded me of how, when I was a kid in England, my father often took me on visits to factories and workshops to see how things were done – from the Dunlop tyre factories, to a stained glass atelier, to the presses of the Daily Telegraph in Fleet Street, when lead type machines were still being used. Learning by viewing, but also learning by doing – if your host is happy to invite hands-on – all very well in sweet making, I guess, but inadvisable in industrial tyre production… 


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