Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wasabi Chips and Black Licorice

It's Bastille Day. I could write about the French Tricolor; about Marianne, berets, baguettes, and pétanque. Or about champagne; champagne's always good. But today was just another day of long hours and feeling depleted. Am I getting one of those rotten summer colds going around? I've got no real symptoms, but there could be something to it, since I'm craving licorice. What does licorice have to do with anything? With Bastille Day? Well, nothing except that I ate half a bag of it at lunchtime: deep, black, gooey, stick-in-your-teeth licorice. And it now brings to mind an odd home remedy from nearly twenty years ago. I was back from college for a stretch—I suppose it was summer vacation—and I had the beginnings of a cold coming on. I remember my mom and I driving to Westport, to a health food store there. I don't know what was originally on the shopping list (if we even had a list), but I do know what we came home with: a bag of hot wasabi chips and a box of black licorice. The wasabi chips at that time were a new discovery for us. They were white, flecked with seaweed, and laced with wasabi mustard that you couldn't actually see but that had a way of sneaking up on your taste buds, knocking them out with all the subtlety of a lead weight in a tube sock, and then going on a rampage up the nasal passages to do a little dance and singe your nose hairs. Being a bit of a masochist, I loved them immediately. I'd feel the sting and eat some more. And then soothe myself with licorice. My mom and I agreed on the oddness of the combination, but we both indulged. And, lo and behold, the next day, I never felt better. Symptoms completely gone. For some time after that, we were convinced we'd found the perfect remedy for any under-the-weather feeling. And it worked more than once, though not always. Today, I ate the licorice. Maybe tomorrow I'll go in search of wasabi chips, just to make sure.


  1. i dont know wasabi chips, but i certainly do know licorice very well - another craving for me, as it is not sold here (would you believe it!)

  2. No, I do not believe it! No licorice? On Crete or is this a typical oversight across Greece? I find that strange, given that the basic flavor, in the form of anise (ouzo!) is readily available. Curious.