I was walking around the neighbourhood with my neighbour (I know, when does that ever happen?!) and we discovered a delightful little candy shop hidden in a small back street just a stone’s throw from our flat.
The place seemed absolutely ancient (as are the old ladies who work there) and it has been in operation for decades. Upstairs there is even a mini-museum with food and consumer goods products from the post-war era.
Of course they sell zoute drop, the pitch-black Dutch salty liquorice. I knew better than to buy any because… well, I had already tasted it once before. It seems to be a Dutch national sport to trick unsuspecting foreigners into tasting their salty liquorice by “kindly” offering it to them, just so they can laugh as the poor victim tries to politely hide his/her disgust upon eating this chewy, rock-like “sweet” which tastes like tar and sticks to your teeth like a dentist’s worst nightmare.
I think there must be something fundamentally different in the Dutch genetic code which has altered their taste buds to like salty liquorice. Whatever that genetic mutation may be, it is shared by the Finns and Scandinavians, because they eat the stuff as well. But the Dutch are the champions – they have the highest per capita consumption of liquorice in the world, at 4.5 pounds per person per year. Yuck.