In case you’ve missed it, Iceland is now firmly on the Turkish Pepper bandwagon. Take a quick scan of the shelves at your local Bónus or bakery, and you’ll find the stuff in chocolate, liquorice, cupcakes, you name it.
Before arriving in Reykjavík a few weeks ago, I had never heard of this “Turkish Pepper,” and I have to admit it wasn’t until recently that I realized it actually has nothing to do with Turkey (and little to do with pepper, for that matter). Instead, the flavour is a delicate balance of ammonium chloride (infamously found in salted liquorice) and black pepper, which gives Turkish Pepper that tang that makes you pucker your lips and leaves a lasting taste on your tongue.
That brings us to the most recent sensation to hit the Turkish Pepper scene: Turkish Pepper Nóa Kropp. (Look for it on the shelves with the label “piparhúðað,” meaning “pepper-coated.”) It’s your familiar, tried-and-tested chocolate-covered cereal puffs, but with an extra dusting of Turkish Pepper that leaves a faint but lingering zing in the back of your mouth.
From what I can tell, people either can’t get enough of this flavour or they can’t stay far enough away from it. Me, I’ve been eating it by the handful, leaving a trail of the (slightly repulsive) greyish-brown coloured dust wherever I go.
And that’s the one downside to this candy that otherwise has it all—a little bit of crunch, a little bit of chocolate, and a little bit of whimsy. Even more so than your regular Nóa Kropp, this stuff is messy. Despite my best efforts to keep my hands clean, I inevitably keep finding smears of Turkish Pepper dust down my pant legs.
A wise person once said that if you can get to know a nation’s candy you can get to know a nation’s heart. (Full disclosure: that wise person was me.) In the case of Iceland, the “piparhúðað” Nóa Kropp points to a country that is polarizing, messy, and a little bit weird. But in the end, I can’t get enough of it.