I have a great fondness for sweets, but the Dutch have a “treat” that is, at least to me, rather unpalatable. This is the Dutch favourite, salmiak – a type of salty liquorice.

I love conventional liquorice, having grown up chewing through countless bags of liquorice allsorts, but had quite a surprise when I tried salmiak.

My first reaction was that it tasted like cough mixture. I wasn’t too far off with this though, as I was soon to learn that one of the main ingredients of salmiak is ammonium chloride, which is what gives salmiak its saltiness and also happens to be the main ingredient in cough syrups.

In addition to this, I learned that ammonium chloride is used to make zinc-carbon batteries, and is used as a textile dye, in cleaning products and even shampoo.

Up to now, I have enjoyed just about all the food I have encountered in the Netherlands, but I doubt I can get used to eating cough medicine as a treat.