Anise is an annual herb native to the Mediterranean area, but now cultivated in many places, including North and South America, the former Soviet Union, southern Europe, etc. Mexico is now the largest producer of anise.
Fennel is sometimes incorrectly called anise.
Anise is a member of the carrot or parsley family, with feathery leaves and slender seeds. The fresh leaves are used in soups, sauces and salads. The seeds are used in aperitifs and liqueurs such as vermouth, anisette, raki, absinthe, pastis, ouzo, Pernod, etc.
Anise seed is also used as flavoring in candies, cough drops, tobacco, cakes, sausages, sauces, chewing gum, pickles, etc. Its use as a flavoring and condiment dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. (Pythagoras believed it would prevent epilepsy).
The original organizers of the colony of Virginia required every man to plant anise seeds.
Anise, one of the oldest cultivated spices was enjoyed by the early Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. In first century Rome, anise was a flavoring in mustaceus, a popular spice cake baked in bay leaves and eaten after a feast to prevent indigestion.
Anise became so valued in England that its import was taxed. In 1305, the import tolls collected on anise seed helped pay for repairs to the London Bridge.
Most of the 'licorice' flavor in candy actually comes from anise. Licorice candy contains very little 'licorice'.
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