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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Liquorice goes upmarket

When I wor a lad liquorice grew on trees. Or at least it came out of the ground in nearby Pontefract where it's said they brought it back from the Crusades. We bought it in sticks, in all-sorts, in round medallions called Pomfret Cakes and, when the budget was under pressure, in root sticks which used to sit like stick insects in jars in the sweet shops. It was not a prestige sweet. Even then it was old-fashioned.

And now it's re-appeared as premium priced low-sugar confectionery. It's very often called Australian Soft Eating Liquorice, you can get it at health food shops where it comes in huge soft logs and costs about three quid a bag. You may well love it. Yesterday my wife went to Fortnum and Mason and appeared home with one of those bijou carrier bags that usually contains something expensive and inconsequential. And so it proved. She'd bought about a dozen Pomfret Cakes. For just under three pounds. I'm rationing them out.


  1. DH: Did you not call it "spanish" it's name just down the road in Barnsley, then again we did call sweets in general "spice" or even more coursely "spogs"

  2. "Spanish". We did indeed! I'd forgotten that.

  3. There was a whole segment on 'The Great British Menu' the other day on liquorice and in particular Pontefract Cakes. It appears the area around Pontefract is perfect for growing yer actual liquorice as the plant needs a really long root and the top-soil is particularly deep in the area.

    That Aussie stuff is exortiant but is a bit nice. Easy to do a bag in an evening at least.

  4. We called it 'Spanish' over in the West Riding too. Vile stuff. The runination of a Sherbert Fountain.

  5. Barnsley is in the West Riding!

  6. If that vid' of the crumbly path wasn't terrifying enough - now its liquorice,*sounds of dry retching* - which I can't stand. It always smelt the like the scrapings from a cigarette holder to this nose.

    I didn't mind the red stuff (which I guess doesn't count) or gnawing on a piece of bark from the chemist known as "Spanish Wood" in sunny Southend.

    PS - thanks for the Traffic tip 'Mr Fantastic', and 'John Barleycorn' went down a treat on my recent Cotswolds trip

  7. Beth/bltp

    So is Pontefract.

  8. Blimey. There was I thinking they were well in the East.

  9. My wife grew up in France. She tells the story about how her mother, as a special treat, used to give them a stick of liquorice. As in a proper stick. A twig. If they'd been really good, they'd get a stick to chew. I find this hilarious, but even now, when we see somewhere selling said sticks (and Valentines Liquorice are good for that sort of thing and usually have a stall at Glastonbury... tickets still available), we still have to buy some.

    My wife's mother was born and grew up in Halifax. This may or may not be a coincidence.


  10. Phil Thomas10:43 pm

    "Get yerself some Spanish" was such a regular saying by the Grannies of Hull (East Yorkshire, fact fans) as they thrust a few pence into eager hands that, in our now-poncey Southern family, it still accompanies any financial doling-out by yours truly. I don't think I have ever given my son any money without accompanying it with the "hilarious" rejoinder, "get yerself some Spanish". You'd think after all these decades I'd get bored of it, but no!