Go Dutch

At least once a year, I make a pilgrimage to Spring for licorice. Not the long, twisted, sweet ropes you might think of as licorice, but the real stuff: Dutch licorice. While most central European and Scandinavian countries have a licorice culture dating back to at least Greek and Roman times, none is as developed as that of Holland. The Little Dutch Girl (210 Gentry, Spring, 281-355-0199; $2.75 for six ounces) has the best selection of Katjes, Kokindjes, Salmiacs, Zoute Schnintjes and Dubbel Zoute in many shapes and sizes (even cats and fish). At one end of the taste range there's the sugarcoated, soft and chewy licorice. At the other end is the hard and salty kind known as Dubbel Zoute (also available in the bulk section at Central Market; $4.99 a pound), which has an intensely saline, ammonialike flavor. Once you've acquired the taste for them, however, these small round black coins can become quite addictive -- hence my pilgrimage.

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Paul Galvani