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Pontefract Liquorice Festival in England

Submitted by on May 28, 2019 – 8:36 amNo Comment

Pontefract Licorice Festival, EnglandIt’s a sweet that divides the public. You’re either a fan of licorice or wrinkle your nose when it’s offered.

In the United Kingdom, however, it’s almost a fetish — at least in Pontefract, England.

That’s where the Pontefract Liquorice Festival takes place July 7, 2019.

One of the reasons your Road Trips Foodie loves to write about foodie fests is the opportunity to learn new things. I had no idea that liquorice was the British English spelling, and licorice was the American — and they both reference the herbaceous perennial legume Glycyrrhiza glabra.

I didn’t know that the flavor came from the root of that plant. I had no idea that licorice has been used for millennia as a medicine (at least as far back as the Assyrians in the seventh century BCE).

And, I didn’t know that licorice has for ages been an active ingredient in the making of Pontefract cakes — which aren’t “cakes” in the American sense, but a sweet that’s a one-inch disc of licorice.

Pontefract, which calls itself the “liquorice capital of England”, is an historic barket town centered on a Norman castle (sometimes the name is pronounced “Pomfret”). Each July, you can find licorice talks, exhibitions, and a huge array of licorice products, not to mention licorice plants (which, of course, Americans cannot bring home across the pond).

According to the sponsors, it is likely that licorice was brought back to Pontefract from the Middle East during the Crusades. At first it was grown as a medicinal plant; the first sweets date from the seventeenth century.

The festival is currently run and managed by Pontefract Liquorice Trust (they took over management in 2003), whose mandate is to develop and enhance social and economic remodeling and reformation of the town through its historical roots and association with licorice.

Pontefract Castle, England

(Photo of model of Pontefract Castle photograph by Rept0n1x, cleaned up and adapted by Hchc2009; photo of licorice discs also courtesy of Wikipedia Commons).

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