Monday, March 7, 2016

Licorice Lore

The Food Lore of Licorice  

Licorice Lore

Long known for its use as a sweetener as well as a healing agent, Licorice has long had a place at many of the world’s food lore tables.

As far back as Ancient Egypt, it was found in the tombs of pharaohs. For example, archaeologists found it in King Tut’s tomb, nestled alongside other earthly treasures that were believed to be useful in the next world. Some experts suggest it was a sweet tonic against inflammation and allergies.
Elsewhere it was also held in high regard. Hindus believed it to be aphrodisiac and the Greeks noted being able to chew on the root to reduce thirst and hunger.
Manuscripts from 360 A.D. talk of licorice helping eye ailments, skin diseases, coughs, and loss of hair. Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar are on record as endorsing the benefits of eating licorice. Since the 14th century, it has been used to soothe coughs, colds, and bronchitis.

Records during the Middle Ages indicate that it was used to help counteract the perils of foods, such as meat, spoiling due to lack of refrigeration. In fact, it was so valuable that King Edward I placed a tax on it in order to pay the cost of repairing the London Bridge.

By the 15th century it was a mainstay in Italian apothecaries and was a favorable addition to tobacco in Germany.

France’s Napoleon Bonaparte was fond of licorice’s soothing quality – especially during battle. Lore indicates that he drank so much of it his teeth turned black.

Interestingly, this member of the pea family, native to southern Europe, Asia, and the Mediterranean, was brought to England by Dominican friars. From there the English introduced it to American Indians where its licorice lore grew to become an essential ingredient for a brew to cure colds.

Related Information: 

Homemade Black Licorice  
Family Food Lore

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