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What is Pernod?

 What is Pernod? I've seen several recipes calling for it. I'm assuming it is some alcoholic liquid, but I've called several liquor stores and no one around here seems ever to have heard of it?

 Right on both counts — Pernod is alcoholic and liquid. Pernod is the brand name of a type of liqueur called a pastis. Its relative in Greece is ouzo and in Spain ojen. Another French brand is Ricard. The leading characteristic of these drinks is their licorice flavor, which is produced either with licorice (the plant, not the candy) or anise. Its other interesting feature is that it clouds up with the addition of water.

The New Guide to Spirits and Liqueurs (Canada, UK) says Pernod is very popular in southern Europe for its thirst-quenching ability, and implies that it is not some frou-frou liqueur that is daintily sipped but a solid "in-between-times drink" that plays a role much like beer further north. With an alcohol content of 40% vs. an average of 5% for most beers and a much higher cost, we doubt very many people drink it like beer — even diluted with five parts water, as done traditionally in France.

Pernod is actually a successor of absinthe, the potent liquor that contained a toxic oil from wormwood in quantities that were thought to cause brain damage — and which was outlawed in 1915 in France. One of absinthe's leading manufacturers, Henri Pernod, then focused its efforts on the lower-alcohol, wormwoodless, anise-flavored Pernod.

But yours was a cooking question, wasn't it? Pernod's US web site includes a number of recipes that feature Pernod, and offers quite a few cooking tips as well, to inspire your creativity and your purchase of a case or two of Pernod.

Continuing on with this bit of promotion, the Pernod site suggests you combine lime juice with sugar and Pernod and toss with tropical fruit for a summer salad. Pernod makes a flavorful addition to meat and poultry dishes that call for wine. Add a splash of Pernod over ice cream for a delicious, easy-to-prepare dessert. And Pernod works very well for flambéing.

In general cooking, the site suggests you add Pernod at the end of the cooking process, a small amount at a time until the taste is right, to make sure the flavors are balanced and not overpowering.

We’ve also found a surprising number of recipes at various sites online that call for Pernod.

Pernod or the other pastis liqueurs should be pretty widely available, but it may help if you pronounce the name correctly the next time you call the liquor store — being French, it is pronounced pear'-no.


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