Licorice may be a love-it-or-loathe-it flavor in America, but in France it’s a given, like chocolate and vanilla, and certainly it’s beloved in the South of France, where pastis is the local drink. (It was even in the title of a Peter Mayle novel.) A liquor containing anise, licorice, and sugar, pastis may be what you think of when you’re daydreaming about men in berets drinking in a small café or playing pétanque, but it’s a relatively new addition to the culture, having been introduced in the 1930s, after absinthe was banned. While I love licorice and I love the ritual of pastis — you pour a little into a tall glass and then fill the glass with water and watch as the liquor turns milky — I’ve never drunk a glass of it. However, each one of my kitchens stocks a bottle of Ricard pastis: you never known when the urge to make a Riviera fish soup (page 92-94) might strike, and without a splash of pastis, the soup just wouldn’t pack any memory-evoking pow.