What is it used for? Fennel…anisette…do you notice a theme here? There’s definitely some indigestion going on after the big holiday dinners…we Italians refer to this as acidita, pronounced ah-gi-da. The brand name for the Italian Alka-Seltzer is Brioschi. It is pronounced bree-oh-skee, but in dialect, we called it bree-osh-kee. The blue bottle is a familiar staple in the Italian medicine cabinet. Brioschi is dissolved in water just like Alka-Seltzer, and that is how the adults in my family would take it. But Grandma would give us some of the crooked, ridged strands to eat while she drank hers. It was like candy to us. It dissolves on your tongue and makes your mouth frothy. Even today, I take it this way instead of in water.
–Dina Di Maio
UPDATE–Brioschi is back. It’s now owned by Neobourne Pharma LLP and you can purchase it online at http://www.brioschi.com/
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I thought it would be appropriate to post this the day after Thanksgiving when everyone has an upset stomach. When Italians have an upset stomach, they call it agita. If one has agita, there is only one remedy for it–Brioschi, pronounced bree-uhsh-ki. (The bottle says Bree-os-kee, but my family pronounces sch like “shk” not “sk.”) When I was a kid, if my grandmother had agita, she’d take out that familiar fat blue bottle with the large red lettering. She’d sprinkle some strands of Brioschi onto a napkin for me. I’d eat it like it was a fizzy lemon candy. It is an effervescent antacid and you were supposed to add it to water like Alka Seltzer. But we would just eat it. Brioschi is over 100 years old, and the company that made it went into real estate and sold the business to an American company, Brioschi Pharmaceuticals, LLC. Last I saw, it was still being produced. However, one bottle is being sold online for $44-$199, so I’m thinking maybe the company is not selling it anymore. And the company website is offline and the Twitter hasn’t been updated in a year. I really hope they can continue to sell Brioschi because not only is it a product of nostalgia, it is also the most effective antacid my family has ever used.