Soapy or Sublime?

I I have met very few people who have a neutral opinion about licorice. Most people either love it or hate it. One person (a hater) described it as "soapy-tasting," while another person (a lover) described it as "earthy."

It's so hard to describe; that's why jelly beans are useful. There are numerous citrus or berry flavors, so it's a little easier to describe them; for example, lemon is tangier than orange. But I don't really know how to describe the unique flavor of licorice. Ouzo, fennel, black jelly beans…

I suppose the same is true for chocolate, except there seem to be more fans and fewer haters. Just imagine trying to describe all the different nuanced flavors of dark, milk or white chocolate (which apparently isn't technically chocolate at all)!  My 99 year old grandmother is a lifelong self-described chocoholic. In fact, one year for her birthday I bought her a membership in a Chocolate-of-the-Month club, and she received a different chocolate sampler in the mail every month! After two months she called me and said in a playful loving tone, "I hate you for doing this, and it's the best birthday present ever!"

Why am I even bothering to blog about licorice and chocolate? First of all, they are incredibly sensual: the smell of licorice tea or freshly baked brownies is so enticing, so compelling. It is a delight to actually take the time to enjoy them mindfully, savoring the smell and taste and texture. You can observe this quite dramatically at times with children, who will unselfconsciously lick their fingers, faces covered with chocolate, delighting in the experience in every way.  

A few months back I blogged about the acupuncturist who referred to chocolate as medicine. The health benefits of dark chocolate have been well documented, and perhaps have even liberated some chocolate fans from any feelings of guilt and shame for indulging in the pleasures of chocolate. The same can be said for licorice, which also has some health benefits; it is important to remember that both chocolate and licorice can have some health risks as well.  And OMG–there are some people who love chocolate covered licorice. That could be overstimulating even for the most forgiving palate.

Our society, particularly the media, feeds us incredibly conflicting messages about these things. You can see TV commercials for Dove Bars and Jenny Craig within the same ten minute period, convincing us we need to deprive or indulge ourselves in any given moment. 


I hope this posting gives you permission to mindfully delight in your favorite sensual pleasure.

Do you believe there is some place that will make the

less thirsty?


In that great absence you will find nothing.

Be strong then, and enter into your own body;

there you have a solid place for your feet.

Think about it carefully!

Don’t go off somewhere else!


Kabir says this: just throw away all thoughts of


and stand firm in that which you are.


by Kabir, excerpt from #14, in The Kabir Book, translated by Robert Bly.