Home Eating & DrinkingFood & RecipesStyle & Ingredients Liquorice: All Sorts in Abruzzo

Liquorice: All Sorts in Abruzzo

by Roddy Newlands
warped vinyl

warped vinyl

may not have as intriguingly edible a mascot as Bassetts’ Bertie, but it has a pedigree of greater antiquity perhaps than even Britain’s. Calabria & have been producing liquorice as a delicacy for longer than records can prove, possibly since Roman times, proving a traditional favourite with Abruzzese right up until today.

The root of the tastebud dilemma

Liquorice’s roots (pun intended) in Abruzzo center around two neighbouring towns in the province, Atri & Silvi. Dominican monks began to extract the liquorice juice from the roots back in the 16th century, harvesting the roots from the plants growing profusely near the Vomano & Piomba rivers around Silvi, earning part of the area the nickname “concio della liquirizia” (“preparation of liquorice”). This relatively humble scale of production was taken to the next level in 1836 by Cavalier de Rosa, in Atri, leading to liquorice from the region becoming famous throughout Italy and Europe.

Liquorice Pebbles

Today the two biggest producers of Abruzzo liquorice are Aurelio Menozzi & R.De Rosa, and Saila Liquirizia which is now part of confectioners & distributors Leaf Italia. Many of the town markets and sagre will have a stand or two with a wonderful variety of liquorice available, from the original barky roots, pure liquorice bricks, long ribbed bands of blackest-of-black stuff looking like warped vinyl, multicoloured sugar-coated pearls plain or flecked, and various variants familiar to those who love Bertie’s All-Sorts.

It takes All Sorts

Sulmona confetti also sometimes uses liquorice as a filling, satisfyingly gooey counterpoint to the harder sugar shells. Inevitably it is also in Abruzzo used to produce a mind-numbingly potent alcoholic postprandial…not for the faint-hearted…

Bricks of the Black Stuff

Medical opinion varies considerably on the merits and demerits of the black stuff, even proves almost as divisive as it does to personal tastes! But I for one hope it continues to provide an alternative to the excessively sweet, chemically loaded and dangerously sugary options on offer world-wide.

Further Reading

Liquorice drug boosts memory in elderly – NewScientist
The Downside of Liquorice – NewScientist


Sue 11/07/2011 - 18:46

To extend the quest for all things liquorice, I would recommend the liquorice ice-cream in Tiziano's gelateria in Silvi, though be careful what you pair it with – crema or fior di latte are the only choices (according to the lady at Tiziano's).

anne 23/05/2011 - 10:21

I love Licorice .. Dutch Licorice is my favourite .. but I have now tried Italian Licorice and that is good too. We have a wonderful sweet shop in Oxford that sells Licorice from all over the world. All in jars on the shelf , it is soooo hard to choose. So I have a few grams of each at a time. Licorice allsorts are a bit of a let down , after trying all the other sweets.. I don't like anything in my Licorice , don't like it red or flavoured either ..

Roddy Newlands 23/05/2011 - 15:35

…for my sins I am quite partial to the red “strawberry” shoe laces, in moderation of course, not like a huge bowl of spaghetti… The most pleasure for me to be had from Bassetts’ Allsorts is in the thought that Bertie was precisely dismembered and decapitated several times for every packet produced…

Thank you for your comment! and good luck exploring the world’s liquorices!

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All about Abruzzo in a slow travel & food blog
All about Abruzzo in a slow travel & food blog