A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

Liquorice – What makes the Dutch like it so much?

dropIf you are an international who has lived in the Netherlands for at least a few months, the following scenario probably sounds familiar to you. A Dutch friend offers you a candy, which you graciously accept (because who turns down free candy??). When you pop the candy in your mouth however, you are filled with the taste of betrayal. You see, the candy you just received wasn’t some sweet delicious goody. No, it was liquorish, a flavour that only Dutch people seem capable of enjoying.

But why? What makes this food so popular among Dutch people that you can find shelves full of them at the grocery store and have become the biggest producer of liquorish worldwide ?┬áthe Netherlands loves liquorice so much even, that we’ve made an alcohol out of it (which is often used as a cold medine as well). Understanding why Dutch people love liquorish so much is obviously not an exact science, but I hope to shed some light on the

A short history

liquorice root has been used as a medicine against symptoms such as the cough and sore throats for centuries in all corners of the globe, even back to ancient times, with records goimg back to at least the ancient Assyrian and Chinese societies going back to 2700 BC. of course this medicine didn’t have the shape it has today, that only came about in the 18th century, although there is only speculation about who was the first to create it in this form, as it is both contributed to the Englishman George Dunhill as well as the Italian Giorgio Amarelli. though the recipethey used was apparently very similar, they mixed Arabic gom with the juice from liquorice root.

So how did the medicine become a candy?

There seem to be a few (non proven) theories on this. The first one is that the Dutch, as well as other Northern European people enjoy liquorice because their culture is based around the sea, which makes the people prefer salty flavours over sweet ones.
Another theory has to do with the Dutch calvinist culture, which argues that the salty flavour is connected with suffering, thus calvinists, with their believes in soberty, allowed it as a candy.
I have also established my own theory (as I do not find either of those as convincing) is that liquorice root, and after that liquorice gom, were affordable and easily accessible products, which, when combined with honey or salmiac made a pleasant flavour, in a time when sugar was rare and expensive, and it simply became a learned flavour.
which one of these theories do you find most convincing? And what is your opinion on liquorice?

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This entry was posted on October 22, 2019 by in Culture, Ilse, Local Customs and tagged , , , , .

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