The first time I left the country, I was 18 years old and decided to work in the US for a year. By this age I wasn’t really interested in international travel by halves. Having not left Australia before, I wondered how homesickness might affect me. I didn’t know what it was like to be immersed in another culture, or what it felt like to be such a sheer distance from the only way of life I had ever known.
One day, about 3 weeks after arriving, I was standing in the supermarket feeling pretty low. My job was not going terribly well. It was always grey, but never snowing. I was living in a super affluent location where classism was rife and it meant few people were friendly. I wanted some comfort food. I wanted lollies.
For those of you that haven’t been to the US, lollies are not a thing there. Sure, they have gummy bears and gummy worms and gummy rings and Swedish fish, but I wanted snakes and teeth and milk bottles. The texture is completely different, and makes up at least 70% of the consumption experience. I gave up on the gummy onslaught and decided to try my luck at chocolate end of the spectrum.
US chocolate is revolting. Honestly, it shouldn’t be called chocolate. There should be ‘chocolate’ and ‘American chocolate’. As I surveyed the sad arrangement of US manufactured disappointment before me, all I wanted was a Cherry Ripe. And that was the moment the reality of homesickness hit me. I could not get a Cherry Ripe without waiting a week for the post, or spending 24 hours on a plane. The sheer distance between me and my next Cherry Ripe was palpable.
I left the supermarket and sat in my car for a while, crying about all the confectionary I couldn’t lay my hands on. Jersey Caramels. Strawberry Clouds. Bananas. Tim Tams. Wagon Wheels. But it was liquorice all sorts that brought on the proper flood of tears. When was the last time I’d eaten a liquorice all sort? Why hadn’t I savoured it? How did I not consider that it might be the last time I could leisurely acquire these squares of culinary genius?
A few months later I changed jobs and everything picked up, but I remember eating a liquorice all sort soon after I arrived in Australia. And I savoured it, and I considered it might be the last time I ever ate one and I would not take it for granted. That was 10 years ago, and I cannot remember eating one since then, so it could well be the last one I have had in a decade.
Clearly, I am one of those people that enjoys liquorice. So why is it I can’t stand T2’s Liquorice Legs? There are some die hard fans out there that swear by this tisane, but I am very much not one of them. I don’t think it’s the liquorice flavour I have a problem with though. The brew also contains fennel and peppermint. When you mix those two together it’s tastes like saccharin to me. There’s a hint of liquorice in the initial sip, but it’s soon replaced by the other competing flavours. I had to steel myself to drink this one.
Liquorice legs: 1/5
Enjoy with: a sense of home.