These days I am definitely going back in time. There’s no doubt about it.
After my salted plastic bags filled with papita that I licked like no tomorrow, it is now time for this stick-in-your-mouth powder to find its way into my writing.
A mixture of corn and peanuts that are reduced to a powder through a mill and later sweetened with sugar, this treat known as chanm chanm, which is sometimes enhanced with sweet spices like cinnamon, marked my childhood.
I still recall the first time I discovered it. I was about eight or seven. Indeed, I believe I first sampled chanm chanm in the third grade on a Friday when my parents, who were caught elsewhere for a family matter, had left us at school a little bit later than usual.
I remember being instantly delighted by this powder, which when mixed with saliva becomes sticky thus giving me a great excuse to fe lasisine. And that’s without mentioning the fact that because it fills the palate, chanm chanm also gives one a lisp. That alone was enough to make me happy.
This stick-in-your-mouth powder was a great way to spark jealousy among friends, especially the ones who had not been able to buy some that day. A child doesn’t ask a lot to have fun, does he?
Sold in small plastic bags, this powder could not be easily shared. The bag had to be carefully opened so as to avoid spilling too much of its content out. In fact, the best way to open the bag was to pierce a tiny hole in one of the edges using just the front teeth; a hole, which much like a funnel, let the chanm chanm out in a streak.
And yes, you’ve probably noticed. I once again had an excuse to eat a plastic bag. Come to think about it, my childhood was filled with those: papita bags, chanm chanm bags, popcorn bags, to mention just a few…
But let’s get back to this corn and peanut concoction. Back then Friday was the day for chanm chanm. The merchant brought some religiously at noon when school was out. I still recall her behind her stall surrounded by tiny hands begging to obtain candy, sweets, popcorn and other treats. I myself only got close to her when I was certain to find my chanm chanm. It was quite a disappointment if she happened to not have any on a given Friday.
Afterall, chanm chanm was my little guilty pleasure.
Such were the memories that came to mind when I was handed a bowl full of chanm chanm from Belladere, a province of Haiti, this past weekend. It had been such a long time since I had last eaten some, and I was happy to have grains of ground corn stuck between my teeth after eating it. If memory serves me right, I last enjoyed a good bag of chanm chanm when I joined the grownups league, otherwise known as 7th grade.
You now thus understand my joy when I rediscovered this taste of my childhood, a joy I couldn’t refrain from sharing with you.
Oh, those tasty childhood memories!