A delightful present awaited me at work Wednesday. My friend Z., the photographer with four dogs, had picked up a bag of salty licorice at a specialty boutique in Litchfield.
Licorice to an American is supposed to be sweet. It is either red or black, and is usually only sold in strings or as wheels. In Scandinavia, ammonium chloride (salmiac) is often added to the licorice root or plant, creating a very salty candy.
The best part of this candy, in addition to the flashbacks to my Swedish childhood, is that I get to see disgusted looks on people's faces as they try it.
"What's that?" our calendar editor asked on Wednesday. "Can I have one?"
"You really won't like it," I said.
But she reached out and grabbed one anyway. Two seconds later, she was spitting it into a garbage can.
Later, the Winsted reporter stopped by my desk as I was taking a candy.
"Here," I said, moving the back closer to him. "Try one. They're Swedish, and they're delicious."
He grabbed a handful - I cringed.
"Eh, perhaps you should start with one," I said.
He put three of them back and dropped the fourth one on his tongue. I didn't even see it land there before he screamed "Ech! What the heck is this??? It's absolutely disgusting!"
My boss has been tricked into eating the salty licorice twice. The first time was when I was new and she was curious and had to try it. The second time was a year later as she - without wearing glasses - mistook the candy for something else.
"Is that chocolate?" she asked - desperate.
"Sure," I said, and put a few pieces in her hand.
Before I knew it, she had started chewing. She quickly realized the mistake and made gagging noices.
The best, though, was when I worked in Milford. Our freelance photographer had a habit of digging through my desk drawers for snacks. I purposely left the bag of salty licorice overnight. The next day, he was furious when I got in.
"What kind of crap do you keep in your desk?" he wanted to know.
I just smiled.
He never went in my desk again.