Great men and women enjoyed liquorice! It is said that Alexander the great and his army survived a desert crossing without a drop of water thanks to liquorice . Liquorice is a plant that is grown for its roots in the mediterranean basin, and in France...
It is said that Alexander the great and his army survived a desert crossing without a drop of water thanks to liquorice. Liquorice is a plant that is grown for its roots in the mediterranean basin, and in France mostly in the Languedoc. Liquorice has medicinal virtues known by doctors from the antiquity. It soothes coughs and stomach pains. It is also known to quench thirst. According to Chinese medicine, liquorice stimulates the brain. Montpellier’s faculty of medicine, the most reputed in the west at the time, promoted its healing powers. In this way, apothecaries, and later confectioners used liquorice to make herbal tea, ointments and pastes. The first medicinal liquorice sweets were mixed with honey, sugar and vanilla by the confectioners of the past to dilute its overpowering taste. In Montpellier, the local confectioners produced sweets called grisettes, which were the size of a pea, made from mixing liquorice with honey. But back in those days, it wasn’t a sweet, it was a medicine. Jacques Cœur brought gum Arabic from the Orient to this region. Confectioners used this raw material that was considered to be a medicine too, and mixed it with liquorice and honey. Liquorice is said to cure asthma, coughs and ulcers. In short, it became so trendy that a sweet drink was made from it: the coco fashion of the eighteenth century associated liquorice wood and lemon. Another sweet was introduced: the cachou. The composition of this famous sweet includes liquorice and Areca nut. This product has a stimulating effect, it supposedly suppresses hunger and stimulates the brain. It has made a place for itself, other than for these reasons thanks to its little yellow box that has not changed since it was first introduced.
Napoleon was a great liquorice consumer in all its forms: liquorice sticks, liquorice sweets and cachou to soothe his stomach ailments. With the industrial revolution and the introduction of the sugar beet, medicinal liquorice gave way to liquorice sweets, confectioners developed all manner of liquorice confectionery, each one tastier than the next. The health virtues were forgotten in favour of culinary delights.
Today, liquorice is eaten everywhere in Europe, it is the Dutch who eat the most, with a point worth mentioning: Dutch liquorice can be salty. There are other sugary and salty sweets: salted butter caramels. Further North, the Scandinavians make liquorice sweets with ammonium salt, to which they add table salt before eating. This sweet’s effect is surprising: extreme salivation and a most unusual taste. Apparently one becomes addicted to these Viking sweets. Would you like to try some?
The great history of sweets has also got its little anecdotes. At the end of the nineteenth century a liquorice sweet maker heard a child asking his mother for a sweet: « Donnes-moi z’en ! Maman » or « Give me some ! Mother ». The owner started a new sweet brand: ZAN adopted by the HARIBO industrial sweet company after lengthy proceedings.
French gourmet confectionerie’s liquorice sweets :
At the online sweet shopfrenchgourmetconfectionery.com you will find liquorice sweets made in Montpellier that are proud descendants of those made by the apothecaries of the past. Enough said, why not try our menthol liquorice, our honey liquorice and our combination of liquorice with honey and vanilla. There are also organic liquorice sweets if you feel that efforts to preserve the environment should be made.