I don't eat sweets, so I obviously can't indulge in Dragon's Beard candy, which is mostly spun, well, pulled sugar. But I can't resist visiting Johnny Chin's small stand in Chinatown every time I'm in Montreal, just to watch it made and schmooze with the affable Johnny.
Dragon's Beard Candy, loved by children (and maybe even adults) in China and Hong Kong, is a mass of hair-thin strands of sugar wrapped around sweetened peanuts, chocolate and coconut or the like. Labor intensive to make, and with a very short half-life of freshess, it's extremely difficult to find, and Johny Chin's storefront stall at 52B R. La Gauchtiere may be the only bricks and mortar location in North America dedicated to the craft.
On a recent visit, Johnny had an apprentice working for him, an attractive but unsmiling young Chinese woman who was obviously well on her way to mastering the craft. Johnny was cagey about her relationship to him, if any, but she obviously was trusted enough to free him up for some holiday travel. Johnny and his wife were on their way the very next weekend to San Francisco for the first time, he told me.
For the young woman, who appeared to be of college age or younger, it was the coolest of summer jobs, I imagined, and wondered if she got to eat her mistakes.
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