Liquorice – The Pharaoh's and Napoleon's Favourite Health Supplement
Are you familiar with its royal highness - Liquorice?
This plant has been known since the ancient times (and we are talking several millennia) and was always highly appreciated and widely used – from ancient Egypt, China and Greece to European courts - it was believed to give vitality, youthfulness, and strength. Many remedies were and still are based on Liquorice, and it’s an essential part of many cough syrups.
Today, you’ve probably encountered the sweet Liquorice taste in the form of candy or a throat pastille. It is said that the taste of Liquorice is so powerful and distinctive that if you take one-part Liquorice candy and 20,000-parts water to dilute it – you could still taste the sweetness of this magic root.
It seems that Liquorice has been with us forever in one form or the other.
King Tut’s Coca-Cola
When the tomb of the great Egyptian Pharaoh King Tut was discovered, large amounts of Liquorice had been found among his gold, jewels, and other treasures. It is believed that Liquorice was put in the tomb so that the King could make his favourite drink - “Mai Sus”- when he transfers to the “next world”. The “Mai Sus” drink is often referred to as “the King Tut’s Coca-Cola” because of its colour and it contained also honey and anise seeds. The modern versions of King Tut’s Coca-Cola can be found on many sites and the ingredients vary, but there’s often a warning that comes with the recipe: it can be a very powerful aphrodisiac!
Alexander the Great’s strength booster
For many historians, Alexander is the greatest military mind in the world’s history. He conquered most of the world known to the ancient Greeks and his Empire reached India. Alexander’s army counted millions and was able to endure long marches and exhausting battles. The secret strength booster? You guessed it: Liquorice! Alexander used to order great amounts of Liquorice for his army to enhance stamina and quench thirst. Some sources claim that Caesar also favoured Liquorice as a “health supplement” for his army men.
London Bridge is falling down, falling down…. Liquorice is there to help!
Liquorice spread very fast and was widely used in all parts of the world. Records show that liquorice was immensely popular in Medieval Europe. So much so that when the London Bridge started crumbling and was in the danger of completely collapsing in the Thames, King Edward I decided that the most efficient way of collecting money for the reparations (which was a time-sensitive matter) was to impose a tax on Liquorice imports. So we can say that London Bridge is still standing strong today thanks to the beloved Liquorice!
Napoleon’s secret pocket powder
Historic sources state that Napoleon suffered from digestion problems and always carried Liquorice powder in his pocket. He consumed so much Liquorice during the fateful battles (probably because the stress only worsened his digestion problems) that his teeth turned completely black and the legend of the Emperor that never smiles was born.
Amarelli Liquorice – Taste the centuries of tradition!
Italian family Amarelli has a long tradition of Liquorice production. When we say long – we mean it! They started the harvesting and sales of Liquorice root sometime in the 16th century and never moved their production! Liquorice was sold to soldiers, pilgrims and labor workers to enhance their strength and vitality. Amarelli factory is considered one of the oldest family ventures in the world! They still reside and make Liquorice products in Calabria because its climate and soil are considered best in the world for Liquorice growth. The famous Amarelli Liquorice candies are made according to a unique and antique Amarelli recipe. The recipe is, of course, a secret, but there’s one thing that’s remained throughout the centuries: no sugar is added and all the healthy and natural properties must be preserved during the candy making.
The Amarelli family dedicated a whole museum to their production and Liquorice history in Rossano, Calabria, in the street that carries the name of the Amarelli family. The museum hides many great Liquorice stories and is visited by 40,000 people per year, which makes it the second most visited museum in Italy, following the Ferrari Museum.
After all the interesting facts about this curious plant, we can’t wait to visit the Amarelli Museum during our Take Me to Calabrian tour this May and hear some more stories and, of course, taste the candy that King Tut and Napoleon loved so much!