The Dutch love sweets and all types of chocolate. Luckily here, you can get chocolate from Belgium, Germany and Switzerland at any shop.By the way, the Dutch make fabulous chocolate too. But the one item that turns the windmills of a Dutchie’s heart is black licorice. Otherwise known as DROP. This is not the black licorice that is in America. This is a very special type made with ammonium chloride and it is pretty salty.

Yes, I did say salty. There is a phrase for this– dubbelzout, which means double the salt. The other countries that embrace this kind of drop are in Scandinavia and Germany. Also, the citizens of Iceland love this licorice especially if it also has pepper in it. Why these countries? No one really knows, but people guess it is because these are countries near the sea…so they already love salt water and salty air. Why not the licorice too?

The Dutch eat more black licorice than any other people in the world. On average, one person eats 5 lbs a year of the drop. Drops come in many shapes, such as squares, ovals, cubes, dogs, and the most popular, coins. You can basically go into any store in The Netherlands and buy a bag of drop. There are also open bins of the stuff, and you can bag your own.

In Utrecht, there is a tiny shop called Drop Inn, and it is dedicated to selling drops. Last year, I had only been here a short time, and I wandered into this charming little shop. I had no clue about the relationship between the Dutch and black licorice. I could only stand in that store for two minutes before I had to get out. The smell of drop makes me want to gag or run to the nearest Snickers and inhale some chocolate. Not only do I not enjoy the taste, but the smell makes me long for sea sickness. But I know that I am in the minority around here, as the sales for drop are sky high.

It has long been believed that drop has medicinal powers. Some people eat drop to soothe their sore throats. But most people just love the taste. People are passionate about the Dutch black licorice and they have family members mail it to them if they are not living in The Netherlands. They cannot exist without their little black coins.

It is just one more thing that I can put on my list that I have learned about the Dutch. They love gingerbread, herring, green pea soup, chocolate or cheese on their breakfast bread and salty black licorice. They are a daring group, these Dutch. You don’t have to love drop to love the Dutch….thank god.

black licorice: kitty cats and beehives

Recommended reading: I have just read one of my favorite books of the year—GILLESPIE AND I by Jane Harris. This takes place in Scotland in 1888 and it details the friendship between a spinster and a family who is  falling apart. To say that this is a page turner is an understatement. Harris is just brilliant in creating a novel that simply flies. I had been eagerly awaiting this book, as I was a huge fan of her first book, THE OBSERVATIONS. I know you will thoroughly enjoy GILLESPIE AND I. Warning: you will most definitely want to talk to someone who has read this book, so makes sure that others are reading this too!

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  • Leslie Sullivan  On September 16, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Jane, when some one goes abroad they always manage to bring some of the black licorice back to the office. Must be available in the duty-free shops. I tried one piece and could not handle it. It tastes medicinal to me. It really has such a different taste from the licorice produced here in the US. Now chocolate is an entirely different matter! I say bring as much back as you can!

  • Frits  On September 16, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Not a huge fan of salty licorice myself… but loads of my friends are. Now sweet licorice (especially honey licorice) is a different story.

    BTW Jane I just finished watching Endeavour (the morse prequel) and I absolutely loved it! I did a little digging and found out that they have been filming 4 new episodes this summer. Can’t wait for more of that goodness. Thanks for the tip

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