British-born Gillian Peled's association with marzipan began at a young age.
"As a child, whenever my parents went to weddings or other functions, they would bring me back the marzipan decorations," says Peled.
"As well as enjoying the taste, the artistic expression that went into sculpturing the marzipan images always interested me," she explains.
Later, as a young mother having immigrated to Israel, Peled began sculpting marzipan images of her own, devoting what precious spare time she had to the hobby, and even spending her summers traveling to marzipan exhibitions in Sicily and Germany.
One might think it was Peled's fascination with all things marzipan that led her to create the Kvar Tavor Marzipan Museum, near Mount Tabor in the Galilee. In reality, though, the decision had less to do with passion than practicality.
"We used to run a business selling marzipan fruit," explains Peled. "Then seven years ago our distributors went bankrupt, leaving us with a lot of marzipan and very little money. This is where the idea to open the museum came from."
Wherever it came from, the idea turned out to be a good one. The museum started off in two small rooms in the Kvar Tavor community center and moved from there four years ago to accommodate the ever-increasing number of visitors.
"We get visitors of all ages," says Peled, "from schoolchildren to pensioners, and many tourists as well. The museum appeals to everyone."
Walking around the museum, it's easy to see why. One cannot help but be fascinated by the ornate detail of the sculptures, and the fact that they are edible only adds to their allure. A particularly impressive category of exhibits is the food category, which includes sculptures of falafel, french fries, sandwiches and eggs - all so detailed that they seem almost real.
There is also a life-size model of Elvis and of Yoram Gaon starring in Kazablan, as well as heads of politicians such as David Ben-Gurion, Shimon Peres and Moshe Katzav - all bearing a remarkable resemblance to their real-life counterparts.
Visitors to the museum are given the opportunity to watch a movie about how marzipan is made, and can even try their hand at sculpting marzipan models. And for those who consider themselves to have real marzipan-molding potential, the fun doesn't stop there. The museum is holding its annual marzipan sculpturing competition this month, and this year's theme is different cultures. The competition will take place December 26 and is open to both professional and amateur sculptors. Entries will be accepted through December 24. Even for those who aren't artistically inclined, it promises to make an entertaining afternoon.
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