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Old Palate, New Tricks

My head is still spinning from an amazing, whirlwind trip to Scandinavia last week. I was a guest of Holland America Line, and was honored to be on hand as they celebrated 150 years in business. It’s quite a milestone! They have a rich history they’re understandably quite proud of, and you can learn more about it in the piece at the top of my website. I also plan to write much more about the overall experience very soon.

I know many of you kept up with me on Facebook and Instagram. I was able to see amazing tulips fields (“Dutch cornfields” as my dear friend Deb calls them), Girl with a Pearl Earring at the Mauritshuis in The Hague and enjoyed a couple of galas with my new friends at HAL before getting on their gorgeous ship Rotterdam. From there, we were off on a quick sail of the North Sea, with stops in Oslo and Copenhagen. I’m always thrilled to check new countries off my box, and Norway and Denmark did not disappoint.

And something surprising happened during the trip, something that once again proved to me that travel is truly the best education, even for someone who’s been fortunate enough to travel fairly widely these past few years.

Black licorice happened.

Really. Let me explain.

As those who know me best can tell you, I cannot stand black licorice. I’m not sure when I decided this was indeed fact, but this culinary contempt goes back years. Even the thought of it would be enough to turn my stomach. Did you catch that past tense?

Last week, as I strolled the gorgeous Tivoli Gardens—the same amusement park that inspired Walt Disney—I stopped by a small confection shop. It was laid out in that clean, sleek Scandinavians fashion, and of course I stopped in. Rows and rows of what I presumed to be chocolate truffles of all colors lined the store’s glass walls, and a shop employee soon approached me with a jar and a pair of long tongs to offer me a sample. Without thinking twice, I popped it into my mouth.

I chewed. And I tasted…well, I wasn’t sure at first. It was sweet—chocolate was certainly on the outside—but also slightly funky and salty in the middle. The salesperson, who stuck around to get my reaction, asked me what I thought. As soon as I swallowed, I asked:

“That was amazing, what was it?”

“Chocolate-covered slow-crafted black licorice.”

I was flabbergasted. “But I really don’t like black licorice,” I stammered.

“We get that all the time,” she laughed.

At that instant, I became a black licorice convert and ended up buying a couple of jars. I still can’t believe it. I might share my treats with the boys—we’ll see--but know I will be ordering them on the regular from Denmark because we will run out.

And here I thought my palate was too old to re-think itself.

But that’s the wonderful thing about travel, right? No matter who we are, how old, or where we’re from, if we open our minds while we’re on the road, the most outstanding and transformative things can happen. I’m grateful every time they do.

Even if it involves black licorice.



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