Do you like sweets? Dusted with sugar, covered in chocolate, gummy, sour, chewy, dangerously salty, fruity, minty…wait, dangerously salty? Yes, you heard right. Here in Norway black, salted liquorice beats all. And when I say liquorice I don’t just mean some processed, spliced with sugar ‘wanna–be’ liquorice, I mean the real deal. Extra salty, for you pleasure.
Now I’ve never been the biggest fan of liquorice,
“I zink it began in mein childhood, unt mamma made me a train, completely out of ze liquorice, unt I had to eat it all!”
Why a German accent? I think I was perhaps making a reference to Freud? Or maybe it was an Augustus Gloop kind of angle? In any case I think we can all agree that Germans, sweets and terrifying childhood memories is a collocation everyone can relate to. Just what is the moral of Hansel and Gretel?
I had a train of thought going here, and a train made out of liquorice!
The day I was presented with a train made entirely from liquorice was subsequently the day I found out I wasn’t too keen on it…Thomas the tank engine was never the same after that (I didn’t want to eat him anymore?). However I’ve slowly gotten over it as I’ve grown older (life is a terrible struggle) and I’d begun to even like it, or at least eat it if it was placed in front of me.
And then I came to Norway.
Liquorice comes in many shapes, sizes and colours here:
- Long spirals
- Small cough drops
- Rectangular pellets
- Covered in chocolate
- Sugar coated
The last two I feel are particularly sneaky as they both appear, from the outside at least, to be perfectly respectable members of the confectionery family. Chilling on the shelves with all the other sweets, waiting… just waiting. And then you bite into them and your mouth is flooded with liquorice, further exacerbated by the fact that it’s covered in sugar!
Subpoenas of the candy kingdom, you just got served!
A cursory glance at Wikipedia regarding the origins of salty liquorice will tell you that it originates originally in Finland, the original name being salmiak. Finland, although perceived as part of Scandinavia by the rest of the world, is not considered Scandinavian by Scandinavians. There are many reasons why this may be, perhaps because of the large amount of sauna nudity that seems to go on there, or perhaps because the Finnish language is completely different to all three of the other Scandinavian countries – who can all pretty much understand each other depending on how drunk they are on that particular evening (as opposed to the British who just assume you can understand them and then proceed to get increasingly drunk) – and moreover, just have a somewhat separate culture historically…perhaps.
The Finnish are considered as something of a weird second cousin by Norwegians, the one who you would never invite to your birthday, but just might have to invite to your wedding, and who would almost certainly turn up in a towel and ask you where the sauna was, without even batting an eyelid at the 300 or so other guests, clad in suits and dresses.
My point here was this. This salty confectionery, liquorice, designed to give McDonalds a run for their money in sodium content, was invented by the equivalent of the guy that lives on his own drinking and braiding his eyebrows into his beard until he’s just a big old tea cosy head with eyes. I mean these guys created the Moomins! Have you seen the Moomins? What nightmarish land must you live in to imagine hippos, one of which wears a top hat but no other items of clothing, talk to witches and live in some kind of converted windmill (I actually love the Moomins, but still)?
Norwegians have adopted this salty creation from their estranged, psychopathic cousin.
The initial taste is not good, why would you continue? No child likes excessive amounts of salt, or else they’d all be in the cupboards snorting lines of it, and later realising why many mammals, including elephants, moose, tapirs and porcupines had enjoyed licking their hands, yet mollusks had never been particularly fond of them… (this paragraph was brought to you by mineral licking mammals, dehydrated slugs and condiment addicted children, please donate just $1 a month and you could make a change (I’ve gone way off topic here)).
I still eat it.
It is my experience that Norwegians, as a custom, like to put pic ’n’ mix in a bowl in the middle of the coffee table, in place of biscuits in Britain, and perhaps fruit, in less diabetically populated countries. This is then rapidly consumed by me, the ‘gracious guest’, in hoover like fashion. Now I won’t say liquorice are the first sweets I go for in the bowl. That would be crazy. But when I have taken all the ones I don’t like, which I do, I don’t then sit back and let the other guests finish off my leftovers. No. I then continue to eat the liquorice, which does cause my mouth to collapse in on itself, yes, and yet, I have to say I’m kind of digging the taste. It’s something different.
Do we really need sweets to be sweet? – I mean I know that that in itself doesn’t make sense as a question. Of course sweets should be sweet, otherwise its self-descriptive name would be misleading, and nobody likes a downright, two faced, liar. – No is the answer. Sweets can be ‘not sweet’ and sugar induced diabetes can be replaced with salted heart attacks and we will make the candy kingdom great again!
No, you know what, screw it. It tastes like crap, just stick to the regular stuff.
NB my girlfriend has just informed me after finishing this little rant that the main liquorice bar, pictured above, is in fact British, and that none of the liquorice in the bowl is salty… so what the hell do I know.