There is something deeply satisfying about the gooey stickiness of some kinds of food. Eating with your hands, sauce dripping down your chin, and licking your fingers is oddly transfixing, it makes you forget the world around you as you give in to the dish. If this picture is something that tempts you, you may want to read on.
Stickiness is often associated with sugary sweetness. Yes, sugar is one of the substances in the gastronomical world that can account for stickiness in food — starting from candies made purely out of sugar to caramel, different kinds of sauce and juice, and puddings. Almost everything with sugar in it has some amount of stickiness. Taffy is probably the stickiest sweet. Salt Water Taffy, which originated in Atlantic City, New Jersey, is the stickiest of the lot. The recipe for Taffy is simply sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup, glycerine, water, butter and, if it’s the salt water variety then salt. The ingredients, once cooled, are put on a hook and manually pulled. This pulling and aerating is what makes the Taffy soft, chewy and, yes, sticky. It will stick to your teeth, your fingers and your tongue. But the deliciousness of the sweet and salty mélange make it all the more worthwhile.
India has its own version of sticky sweets. The most popular sticky ingredient is gond that is edible gum and is majorly used to make laddoos. Named after an ingredient that literally means ‘glue’, the stickiness of it should need no further explanation. Unlike processed sugar, edible gum is actually very healthy. It is the hardened sap of the acacia tree and has the quality to produce heat. Consuming sweets containing gond can protect you from cold and cough during the chilly winters and yes, it is absolutely delicious and still manages to make you put your finger in your mouth trying to pry it off your molars. Brushing your teeth after having gond ke laddoo might be a good idea as these little crystals are good for your body but are definitely bad for your teeth.
Another healthy, sticky foodstuff is Chia Seed. Full of antioxidants and omega-3, these little black or white seeds can be sprinkled over salads, cereals, yogurts and soups. The only thing that may deter you from having these seeds is that they rapidly combine with liquid to form a gloopy, sticky gel. If the plate or bowl to which these seeds are stuck is not washed immediately, you will have a hard time trying to get them off. According to the Facebook page of Chia Seeds, it has been 'nominated as the stickiest food in the world by the World Sticky Association'. Though this might be a satire, the comments from real people prove that yes, Chia Seeds do deserve a prime spot in the sticky foods hall of fame.
Moving on to the junk food that is consumed just because of its sticky goodness — Sticky Buns. There are close to 600 calories in one serving of this breakfast dessert but it is still a popular guilty pleasure. Leavened dough with cinnamon and sugar is slathered with other sticky ingredients like honey, maple syrup, more sugar and nuts, and baked till it is a futile task to eat one without messing up your mouth, hands and clothes.
Another delight that is bad for the clothes and definitely the arteries is meat which has been bathed in BBQ sauce. BBQ sauce is technically a condiment but this smokey dark brown liquid is often used as a marinade for all sorts of meats. India’s Tandoori marinade is very different and not sticky at all, because it contains more of spices and absolutely no sugar. In Chinese cooking though, there is an equivalent, the Hoisin sauce. More of an American delicacy, BBQ pork ribs are definitely in line for the prize of one of the stickiest food items in the world.
There is no choice but to dive into a plate of ribs with your fingers and make sure to take along a bib to protect your shirt if you are planning to enjoy the ribs.
So if being in a ‘sticky’ situation is one of your guilty food pleasures, it’s not really that bad to indulge in sticky toffee puddings, rich chewy chocolate brownies, gooey caramel pies and honey chilly potatoes or meat, once in a while — but beware the wrath of the dentist if you don’t brush your teeth afterwards!