I was recently in another country where English isn’t even the lingua franca answering the first question one gets when chatting up fellow travelers. “Where do you live?” Usually they’ve never heard of Poulsbo so I end up responding that I live across the water from Seattle when this one, a stranger on the train to Madrid, interrupted me with, “Do you live where that great licorice store is located?”
That great licorice store is Poulsbo’s Marina Market, home of The Licorice Shrine. So hip is the Shrine that it has its own Twitter handle @LicoriceShrine which regularly tweets out updates to its licorice followers: “we have WAYYY more #blacklicorice in stock now! and #buylicorice on Sale!” And a blog. And an online store carrying 502 licorice related products.
I live in Poulsbo and as you know from previous posts, I walk everywhere. Marina Market and The Licorice Shrine are on one of my routes and so I stop by on occasion to pay homage. There are rows of packages and tins of authentic licorice choices from around the world. Brightly colored packages of black licorice from Finland, Holland, Sweden and Germany (Marina Market makes it easy to identify the origin of the licorice by placing country flags on the displays).
There are licorices filled with blueberry, pomegranate and mango. Sweet licorices. Salty licorices. Extreme super hot licorices. Gluten free licorices. Hard and soft licorices. And for those of you who insist, Marina Market carries faux licorice – Red Vines and Twizzlers that don’t even list licorice as an ingredient. In fact, some candies that call themselves licorice are really flavored with anise, a seed similar to but with less flavor than licorice extract. Real licorice candies are made from the root of the licorice plant; an herbal plant originating in China and India and used for thousands of years to relieve pain and heal wounds. The root contains a chemical called glycyrrhizin that’s fifty times sweeter than sugar. When the roots are shredded and ground they create an extract used in the making of licorice.
Why in my Norwegian themed town is there a Licorice Shrine? Because Nordic people have a fondness for licorice. In fact Google any Nordic country + licorice and you’ll find that each has a favorite type and flavor. Marina Market caters to that multitude of tastes. And if you prefer your licorice in liquid form, the store has fifteen varieties of beer flavored with licorice among its stock of 1079 beers.