I’m beginning to like the taste of spunk…

Posted in Copenhagen, Food

Since being in Denmark, I’ve been pushing myself to try new things. However, even with this attitude I couldn’t conjure much enthusiasm for putting a load of spunk in my mouth. When I first tried spunk, I was expecting something sweet and delicious, but it’s really nothing like that…it was a shock to the system.

Firstly, the texture. It’s hard like old school ‘Fruit Gums’ – the sinister evil cousin to the Fruit Pastilles… I’ve heard that Nestle changed the formula for Fruit Gums, so Millennials won’t understand just how filling-extractingly tough and sticky Fruit Gums used to be.

It’s the same with Spunk, if you start chewing it the stuff gets everywhere and you spend the next ten minutes trying to pick bits of spunk out from between your teeth. Not a very pleasant experience.

Next is the taste. Now the Nordics just love liquorice… It’s up there with Candles, Christmas and Socialism. The Icelandic colleagues I sit near let me know that liquorice is especially big in Iceland and they regularly tuck into some ‘Bingo’ along with a big bowl of ‘Kropp’ at Yuletime.

If you live in the UK, liquorice is something that you seem to regularly encounter yet you never actually buy. When was the last time you personally bought a bag of liquorice allsorts…? Yet they still somehow appear in your life….at Granny’s house,  at the Church fundraising event, at the hospital bedside table of a sick uncle and someone’s weird mum always seems to have a half-filled bag of them in her handbag.

When you are a kid the enjoyment of liquorice stems from a few things:

  1. It allows you pretend you are the Tony Montana of the sherbet world as you use the liquorice implement to cover your face in sugar
  2. For budding engineers, it can be quite good fun to deconstruct the stripy liquorice allsort into separate layers… they used to have these record shape liquorice circles that you could unravel too… but these have since long gone from our shops… another casualty of Broken Britain
  3. There were one/maybe two of the allsorts that were quite tasty… generally the ones with the white  stuff in them. The pink and blue monstrosities (liquorice-flavoured gelatine sprinkled with mono-type hundreds and thousands) were definitely to be avoided at all costs, they only put them in so they could make Bertie Basset an effective marketing tool… a definite case of style over substance. If you look at photos of them nowadays, they definitely resemble dishwasher tablets more than they do sweets.

I rest my case your honour…

 

Anyway, once you get past the age of 10 you soon realise that liquorice is generally pretty bobbins and only something to be gorged on when you are over at Great Aunt Flo’s for Christmas and its a choice between liquorice, twiglets and mini-cheddars…In this scenario, liquorice has a strong game but put it in the ring next to chocolate and it gets a schoolin’ that it’ll never forget.

Still, in the Nordics they still rate it highly… You even get boutique liquorice at the airports and everything. I guess they never quite grow up over here, all the playgrounds, celebrations and Christmas joy means they stay young at heart and don’t ever end up with the same cynical relationship I have with licquorice.

But then those Crazy Danes go one step further… They think to themselves… ‘Hmmm what can we do to make this semi-average confectionary more appealing…. I know, let’s make it tooth-breakingly hard and add lots of salt to it’.

Now, salt plays and amazing role in the culinary world…but it’s not something you connect with confectionary. Maybe sea salt flakes in some super posh chocolate or caramel salted ice-cream… but that’s the limit right? You don’t put salt on your Rolos and you never hear someone saying ‘Can I please have some more salt on my Mars Bar’… do you? Although, I just realised I did hear that once in the Mr. Chips chip shop off Lothian Road in Edinburgh…but Scotland’s another nation with a fucked up relationship with food that I don’t have time to go into now.

So anyway, the first time I had spunk, it was pretty manky and I didn’t really think I’d ever go back. But this week, things have been pretty grim. I’ve been working ridiculously hard (what happened to the fabled work-life balance Denmark?), the kids have been sick, my wife’s been sick, I’ve been sick and it’s been cold and snowy.

Anyway, on a walk to the shops surrounded by snow with the tail end of a cold still hurting my throat, I find a half-finished pack of spunk in my pocket. Half-finished for a good reason, but with nothing else to do, I put a handful in my mouth… This time I just suck, having learned my lesson, that chewing is going to result in immediate dental surgery. The difference is amazing, the menthol licquorice flavour can penetrate my cold-dented taste buds and as the salty mix of spunk and saliva oozes down my throat, I realise what a delicious sensation it is providing to my sore throat.

I kind of begin to realise that licquorice, especially salt-licquorice is a cold weather sweet. It’s not meant for the sunny beaches of Australia, but its something to keep Trawlermen and Trawlerwomen happy as they pine for the Fjords and wish they’ll be home soon with a freezer for of legally caught fish that falls within their EU regulated quota.

With giving things a second try, I too now begin to appreciate the same fond sensations that those on the high-seas must face. It’s a taste that definitely takes some getting use to, but it is worth it when you acclimatize. I kind of feel the same about Denmark. There’s no denying, the post Christmas winter has been hard for us and the kids but we’ve come through it with more reliance and an ever-growing appreciation of the city we are currently calling home.

 

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