Anise (Pimpinella anisum), also called aniseed, is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. Its flavor has similarities with some other spices, such as star anise, fennel, and liquorice. Western cuisines have long used anise to flavor some dishes, drinks, and candies, and the word is used for both the species of herb and its licorice-like flavor.
Anise is sweet and very aromatic, distinguished by its characteristic flavor. The seeds, whole or powdered, are used in a wide variety of regional and ethnic confectioneries, including the black jelly bean, the turkish Raki which is an alcoholic drink, British aniseed balls, Australian humbugs, New Zealand aniseed wheels, Italian pizzelle, German Pfeffernüsse and Springerle, Austrian Anisbögen, Netherland muisjes, Norwegian knotts, New Mexican Bizcochitos, and Peruvian picarones. It is a key ingredient in Mexican atole de anís or champurrado, which is similar to hot chocolate, and it is taken as a digestive after meals in India.
The Ancient Romans often served spiced cakes with aniseseed, called mustaceoe at the end of feasts as a digestive. This tradition of serving cake at the end of festivities is the basis for the tradition of serving cake at weddings.
Anise is used to flavor Middle Eastern Arak, Colombian Aguardiente, French spirits Absinthe, Anisette and Pastis, Greek Ouzo, Bulgarian Mastika, Macedonian Мастика, German Jägermeister, Italian Sambuca, Dutch Brokmöpke, Portuguese, Peruvian and Spanish Anís, Mexican Xtabentún and Turkish Rakı. In these liquors, it is clear, but on addition of water becomes cloudy, a phenomenon known as the ouzo effect. It is believed to be one of the secret ingredients in the French liqueur Chartreuse. It is also used in some root beers, such as Virgil's in the United States.
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