Liquorice - The Black Passion

We wanted to explore some questions that we had heard frequently at work: Why is liquorice black? Is "salmiac" a type of liquorice too? What is the deal with "bears poo"? So we developed the idea to tell a few interesting and funny stories around liquorice in a little book. Viola!

Liquorice - our black passion at kadó
Dirk Soboll the photograper at work
Requisite in "Goldrush" 1925
Ceiling painting in Bamberg Cathedral
Liquorice research in Pontefract
Zweidlerplan from Bamberg

A big day for kadó – At the Frankfurt Book Show, a book about liquorice was presented: “Liquorice – the black passion” which is a joint work of the author Klaus-Dieter Kreische, kadó and Thorbecke publishing house.

Initially, we wanted to use a homemade brooch to answer some questions that we are often asked when working with black gold: why does liquorice have a black colour? What is it about the bear droppings? Is ammonia also liquorice? Where does liquorice grow? This is how the idea was born. We gathered some facts, but soon reached our limits: it was impossible to conduct the research from Berlin. We would have to swarm out to the countries, to the museums, the libraries, to the liquorice producers and competent local partners to answer all our questions. Hm, the next step would require a completely different approach including a financial budget. Fibel adé.
Which employee at kadó still has a foreign language up his sleeve and is up for a little liquorice tour? He or she is now getting used to it... As a trained historian, Klaus takes over responsibility for the content and sinks into the depths of black matter. He is where all the research results come together.

The first research trip took Klaus Kreische and Ilse Böge to England. There liquorice was grown around the Castle Pontefract. According to legendary history, the castle was sanded down by the population, only remains of walls still remind of its location. There is also nothing left of Pontefract's once flourishing liquorice industry. In the library we listened to the legendary stories about the creation of the first sweet liquorice recipe worldwide, the Pontefract Cakes! A black liquorice cake with a castle embossing. It is said that the chemist Dunhill experimented with raw liquorice around 1760 and developed a liquorice dough with the addition of flour and sugar - the first liquorice recipe!

But it is known with certainty that Hollywood ordered a liquorice commissioned work. Namely the shoe that Charlie Chaplin cooks, serves and eats with unwavering table manners as a hungry gold-digger in his 1925 film "Gold Rush". It was made entirely of English Pontefract liquorice.

The French-speaking kadó research team consisted of Klaus Kreische and Maike Koch. They travelled to Montpellier, Southern France. Klaus knew that there were many liquorice farmers along the Silk Road who cooked their family's own liquorice recipes. Today, the number has melted down to just a few family businesses. But they still exist, the small liquorice families, and Madame Auzier was available for an interview with them about their intergenerational company history. Since Maike loves to cook, she also brought some recipe ideas for our later liquorice tastings at kadó. Because finely ground liquorice powder can be used cleverly in the kitchen as a spice, in soups, in meat stock, on salads or on top when caramelising crème brûlée.

Another journey took Klaus Kreische and Frank Büttner to Rossano, Calabria. There they visited the Amarelli company, founded in 1731, and indulged in the numerous historical sources available to this liquorice family. This is enough even for a museum! Here they could see how liquorice is made from liquorice.

Liquorice also has its roots in Germany and a final research led Klaus alone to the gardener's town of Bamberg. Liquorice farmers also settled here in the 16th century and the liquorice industry flourished. Traces of this can still be seen today in Bamberg Cathedral.

Back in Berlin, Klaus Kreische set about getting the Thorbecke publishing house interested in our research. And this little book about our black passion has become a result. Maike Koch created the recipes in it. Ilse Böge designed the 32 pictures for Klaus' texts. Together with Dirk Soboll, interior designer and photographer, the photos were taken. A real liquorice shooting including construction, light and a pleasing shine with a little olive oil...

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