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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Liquorice: one more reason to visit Calabria

Liquorice! Make that 11 reasons to visit Calabria. See this post for the other ten, oh, and this one too. How could I forget liquorice? Liquirizia in Italian. I've always loved liquorice, since I was a child when my Nanna (nonna in Italian) encouraged my addiction to Aussie confectioner Darrell Lea's original soft liquorice. She'd buy a big brown paper bag of the stuff whenever we'd go shopping and after dinner (or 'tea' as they called it then), we'd sit in front of the television (black and white in those days!), my Pop (nonno), Nanna and I, and we'd demolish the whole lot. Yum! And we weren't alone. 50 million strands of liquorice are consumed by Australians each year. That's 40,000 kilometres worth. Enough to cross Australia 10 times! (See this page for more liquorice trivia.) My passion for the soft stuff doesn't mean I don't appreciate the hard chewy pastels popular in Europe. They're just as delectable and Amarelli's liquorice pastels are the connoisseurs' favorites, as much for the retro tins (pictured) as for the tiny tangy morsels inside. Which is why I was excited during our recent research in Calabria to discover the Amarelli factory was in Rossano. Family-run Amarelli is the oldest liquorice producer, and while the Amarellis were extracting liquorice juice as far back as 1500, they didn't establish the factory until 1731. Their old fortress-like residence is now a fascinating museum dedicated to all things liquorice and the friendly multi-lingual staff run guided tours daily. While you can visit any time, go in the morning if you want to watch the liquorice process in the factory. But expect the sweet mouthwatering aromas to have you heading straight to the gift shop after.


Alexander Santillanes said...

Mmm, I love the dark herb flavor of black liquorice. Woould love to watch it being made. -X

Lara Dunston said...

It's not the 'watching' but the 'inhaling' that makes it worth it. The sweet, herbacious aromas are heavenly - truly mouthwatering.