I am that person…that sneaky, naughty person, that picks out all the black jelly beans from the mix…one at a time, and leaves you with the orange, lemon and whatever the white flavor is. Do you know how hard it is to find black jelly beans any more? Even the Jelly Bean Holiday of the Year, Easter, has now switched from standard jelly beans to “Starburst” flavored. There are no black jelly beans in that bag…Believe me, I know. My dad loved licorice, black licorice…not that red stuff called “Twizzlers” or “Red Vines”, real licorice. He and I would be in that same jar of jelly beans, picking out the black ones, one-by-one. Now, both of my girls love black licorice too, and could barely wait until I took pictures before they demolished the whole box.
I love it all…Black jelly beans, soft, Australian Panda licorice, thin whips and big, fat ropes. The Dutch love licorice. I remember going to a street market in Amsterdam many years ago and seeing the biggest array of licorice on display. In the Netherlands, they have different levels of sweetness, from salty to sweet. I made the mistake of choosing one of the saltier versions and remember feeling disappointed. I had some licorice dreams, that I’d rather forget, after drinking licorice flavored Ouzo in the Greek Isles, but that’s another story…or not. Opah?
The licorice flavor is also in aniseed and fennel, but the plants they come from are not related. When I want to fake the flavor of Italian Sausage in my vegetarian spaghetti sauce, I throw in some fennel seeds, which are always present in Italian Sausage and give it that “Italian” flavor. I searched this weekend for some licorice basil, to no avail.
I remember my dad telling me that Absinthe, the aniseed flavored French spirit was illegal in the States because it had some hallucinogenic effects (it doesn’t). He had tried it when he was in Paris. He never said I should try it, but he never said I shouldn’t either. I think he was giving me his tacit approval. I never did try Absinthe in Paris, but it reminds me of Hemingway, Degas and Manet and that romantic, artistic, living-in-an-Atelier-in-Paris era.
So when I found out that today was National Jelly Bean Day, (you’re suppose to know these things when you blog), it got me thinking about jelly beans, my dad, and licorice. What’s your favorite flavor?