Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Friday Food 90 – Licorice


Friday food is a weekly article about one of the more unusual food items to be found in Liuzhou that week. This week, we are looking at licorice.

Whether you spell it licorice or liquorice and no matter how you pronounce it, there is a fair chance you have consumed a  lot more than you might think.

Licorice is the root of a plant, Glycyrrhiza glabra, which is distantly related to beans and peas.


Apart from childhood sweets (Liquorice Allsorts!), licorice is used in many food preparations. I have in front of me a bag of dried mango slices. Ingredients include 甘草, which is just licorice. It is a commonly used sweetener in industrial food processing.

However, if you are or ever have been a smoker, you have certainly smoked a lot more than you ever ate. No, this isn’t some sort of electric banana hippy joke. 90% of the world’s licorice crop is used in the tobacco industry. Tobacco tastes like shit, so licorice is added to cigarettes to make it more palatable.

Of course, China, being China, has yet a few more uses. It is used extensively as a culinary spice. Every supermarket sells licorice root.  It is used in hot pots (and in Xiang Liao) and in many braised dishes. And, of course, it turns up in Traditional Chinese Medicine – what doesn’t?

At least one study has suggested that eating licorice during pregnancy can adversely affect a child’s IQ and behaviour.

When I was a kid, the sticks were just sold in sweet shops and we just chewed on ’em. I tried one last night and went straight back to being 9 years old! Bliss.

¥25/500 grams, but you’d have to be going some to get through that much. The lot in the picture only came to ¥3.40.

. This entry was posted on Friday, August 2nd, 2013 at 7:00 am and is filed under Food and Drink, Friday Food. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “Friday Food 90 – Licorice”

  1. David Says:

    Thanks , just reading it brought back the lovely taste of those sticks and a craving . Wonder if I can find a suitably old fashioned sweet shop…..

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