Swedes and Liquorice

When I moved to Sweden many years ago, I found Swedish food very very salty. In South Africa there is a strong Indian and Malaysian influence in the food, so I was used to spices being used to flavour food. But the salt content in Swedish food made it almost inedible for me. Historically, Swedes had to preserve their food for the winter, so they used a lot of salt, and I guess their palates have been used to it over the years. I have become more used to saltier food but I still prefer spice for flavouring.

Another thing that baffles me about Swedes is their love for liquorice (lakrits) and salmiak (liquorice flavoured with salty ammonium chloride). They absolutely love salty liquorice and that is a huge hell no for me. I don’t mind sweet liquorice in very small doses (toffees or liquorice allsorts) but salty is not going to be something for me – ever. I know it is an acquired taste and that it is addicted but I am not even going to go there.

The Swedes discovered liquorice (or licorice if you use US spelling)  in the late 1800s and have loved it ever since Salmiak, liquorice flavoured with salty ammonium chloride (a salty chemical compound resulting from the reaction between hydrochloric acid and ammonia), is even more popular than sweet liquorice. The salt is mixed with sugar, starch, wheat flour, and extracts from dried liquorice root, and then heated until it is the right texture.

There is a chain of shops in Sweden called Lakritsroten devoted to the black stuff – both sweet and salty.

There is also liquorice ice cream (glassmeny means ice cream menu)

and liquorice drinks…

and liquorice paste, colour, essence and seeds

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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