Putanga – Life on the Road

Stories from my journeys around the world…

Marzipan and Salty Licorice

Posted by Monica Johansen on February 8, 2009

One thing I have missed since I left Europe is some of the foods that I was used to and that you can’t easily get hold of in this part of the world.

The one item I definitely knew that I was not going to find anywhere else is of course the famous Norwegian brown cheese (“brunost”). I have discovered that anyone outside of Scandinavia thinks that brown cheese sounds disgusting, but most people who actually dare to taste it find it quite nice. Brown cheese is made by boiling a mixture of milk, cream and whey for several hours so that the water evaporates, and the heat turns the milk sugar into caramel which gives the cheese its characteristic taste and color. Although I did eat brown cheese occasionally, it is not something I have really missed while being away, except maybe if I eat waffles. Waffles simply do not taste the same without brown cheese. 🙂

Marzipan pig from Nidar

Marzipan pig from Nidar

In fact, the two food items I have missed to most over the last couple of years have been my favorite sweets, marzipan and salty licorice. To start with the latter, I have simply not been able to find salty licorice anywhere in the Asia Pacific region although I have been looking is several countries and in a variety of sweets stores. I realize that salty licorice is a very Northern European thing, but I was still hoping that someone in the food business in this part of the world would have tasted it and enjoyed it so much that they would have imported a small sample.

Marzipan is something you can find in most chocolate stores and some grocery stores here in Singapore. But since is it regarded as an odd kind of sweet they don’t have many different types here, and in the grocery stores the marzipan is typically found under the baking section and not the chocolate and sweets sections as I would have expected. I bought some chocolate covered marzipan to some of my colleagues a while ago, and they didn’t like it at all. Hence, I can understand that the local stores won’t import much of it. However, I find it strange though, since it is mainly made up of almonds and sugar and most of my colleagues will eat both. But I guess it is one of these things you just have to be used to from a young age.

It is also quite funny how some food is localized to fit into the local taste preferences. For instance, when one of my German friends moved to Sydney a couple of years ago he told me that he had discovered that his favorite hazelnut spread, Nutella, didn’t taste the same in Australia as in Germany. He wrote an email to the producer, Ferrero, and they responded that the spread has been slightly adjusted to meet local taste preferences.

To look at it the other way around, I have discovered that for instance Chinese restaurants in Northern Europe don’t really server Chinese food. The food is in fact more Thai, but without the heavy spices, and I guess it fits better to the Scandinavian palates than the traditional Chinese food, such as watery fish soup and dumplings.

I am actually fine with most of the food in Asia, and I don’t have any major problems finding something vegetarian to stuff into my mouth. But I hope that someone from Northern Europe can come down for a visit soon and bring some Norwegian marzipan and salty licorice.


One Response to “Marzipan and Salty Licorice”

  1. Nina said

    Det er vel kanskje litt problematisk å sende det i posten til deg?


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