Alright all you black-jellybean-loving crazies out there, today is your day. April 12 is National Liquorice Day. How shall we celebrate? I personally will be trying to contain my nausea at the thought of a day devoted to such a noxious substance. liquorice is vile. Liquorice extract comes from the root of the Glycyrrhiza glabra plant and is 50 times sweeter than sugar. But do we use it as sugar? No! The only things we use it to sweeten already taste like death, so we feel the need to try to cover up their flavor with something else foul, yet sweet. Historically, liquorice has been used medicinally and to flavor medicines to make them more palatable (though I can't imagine how that actually works).
Chances are, what you know as liquorice isn't actually true liquorice. Most of the black liquorice twists made in the US are flavored mostly with anise and maybe a tiny bit of liquorice. That's how vile it is; not even liquorice is made with liquorice.
Consider some of the things that are made with Liquorice. Does anyone have any fond memories of Jagermeister. Does anyone have any memories at all? Even though it is technically an herbal liqueur, it's not really a drink one wants to sip by the fire to get a warm cozy feeling. It's more like one that you do one shot of and think, "Oh my God, what have I just done to my mouth?" So then you have another to deaden your tastebuds. One of the herbs in this 70 proof college staple is indeed liquorice. Anyone who says they drink Jagermeister because they like the taste is LYING. If you've never had it, consider yourself lucky as it tastes very much like NyQuil. And speaking of NyQuil - even though Proctor and Gamble won't actually confirm this - I'm sure liquorice is part of what gives it its classic "Green Death" flavor.
Then there is Tobacco. About 90% of the world's natural liquorice is used to flavor, sweeten and condition tobacco products like cigarettes, pipe tobacco and chewing tobacco.Yummmm…hack, hack, hack. Not only does liquorice lend its contemptible flavor to cancer sticks and the like, it actually expands the airways allowing the user to inhale more smoke. Hooray. I can only think that liquorice is the tobacco industry's dream come true.
And then there are always yummy treats like insecticide, fertilizer and insulation.
So, I will be celebrating with the much more pleasant flavors of anise and fennel - often wrongly identified as Liquorice - even though the two plants are not at all related to the plant from which liquorice comes. You liquorice lovers out there, go ahead and have a shot of Jager and a dose of NyQuil. See you next week.