Bring out the flavour with herbs

Bring out the flavour with herbs

   Green Renaissance

Thyme

Thyme enhances the flavor of olive oil, pickled olives, butter, vinegar, meats, poultry, fish, soups and stews, and vegetable dishes.

Fresh garden salads as well as stuffed baked vegetables benefit from the addition of thyme. It can also be added to breads, cookies, and spoon sweets.

Origin, History, and Mythology  :

Gaius Plinius Secundus, (circa 23 – 79 A.C.E.), better known as Pliny the Elder, said that when thyme is burned, it “puts to flight all venomous creatures.”

In mythical folklore, thyme flowers were full of perfume and nectar for the bees, traditionally the messengers of the faery world. The bower of the Fairy Queen Titania in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is described as being in “…a bank where the wild thyme blows, where oxlips and the nodding violet grows…”.

Thyme is native to the Mediterranean, and historical records attribute, in part, the naming of the thyme plant to Theophrastus, 3rd century B.C.E. Greek philosopher and naturalist. Ancient Greeks believed thyme and its extracts could restore vigor and mental acuity. They burned it as a religious incense to give them courage.

It was an ingredient in ritual altar fires, to purify the sacrifices to the gods. Thyme was burned as an incense at funerals and placed in the coffin of the dead in the belief that the soul of the deceased took up residence in the flowers of the thyme plant, and that thyme assured the passage of the deceased into the afterlife.

 

Rosemary

Rosemary is one of those utilitarian herbs that complement and enrich a variety of foods, either as an ingredient in the food or as an aroma for roasted meats.  

Rosemary is also used in marinades, salads, breads, cooked greens and soups.

Origin, History, and Mythology  :

Rosemary is grown in many temperate climates, from southern Europe and the Mediterranean to most areas of the U.S. and beyond. Several ancient civilizations used rosemary as both a medicine and cooking herb.

To Egyptians of antiquity, rosemary for good for both the living and the dead. The herb was buried with the pharaohs. Believed to have magical powers to banish evil spirits, it was burned in sick rooms as a disinfectant, and was used to ward off the plague.

Perhaps the earliest written record of man’s use of rosemary dates from the 5th millenium B.C.E., by Sumerians in cuneiform on stone tablets.

As a medicine, various preparations and extracts made from rosemary were used to treat stomach and abdominal pain, to soothe mouth ulcers and sore throats, to lessen the pains of arthritic joints, to promote healing of wounds and of eczema. Rosemary is called “the herb of remembrance.” Rosemary tea is said to act as a stimulant for study and concentration.

In certain cultures, it was/is customary for the bride to have a sprig of rosemary in her wreath or wedding bouquet. Perhaps rosemary is Cupid’s “herbal matchmaker,” as suggested by the lyrics of an ancient ballad: “Young men and maids do ready stand, With sweet rosemary in their hands.”

Sage

Sage has a strong flavor that is spicy and sharp, with a hint of camphor.

 Small amounts of sage leaves are often used in cooking meats and poultry, or in wreaths. Sage smoke can be used as a room deodorizer.

 

Origin, History, and Mythology  :

At least 20 subspecies of sage are native to the Mediterranean region, growing wild on hillsides and wasteland alike. More than 250 subspecies have been catalogued. At least one subspecies of sage is cultivated in most areas of the world.

There are two sage varieties: broad-leaf and inrolled at the edges. Broad-leaf sage is mild in taste and is used for cooking. Sage has a slightly bitter and pungent taste and goes well with pork, duck, sausage, and bacon. On Crete, sage is often used in the process of smoking sausages, and while baking the traditional hard bread of Crete by inserting twigs of sage in the wood-fired oven.

Ancient Greek physicians, such as Dioscurides and Hippocrates, were familiar with the medicinal and therapeutic qualities and applications of sage. Hippocrates (4th century BCE) prescribed sage as a remedy for lung diseases and gynecological disorders. Dioscurides (1st centry AD) used sage as a diuretic, to stop external bleeding, and to promote menstrual discharge.

Folk medicine in many parts of the world consider sage a “cure all” medicine, and use it to treat a host of illnesses, such as respiratory infections, sore throats, and headaches. Desert nomads drink an herbal infusion (mostly sage) believing that doing so restricts the loss of fluids and prevents dehydration.

Medieval Europeans used sage to strengthen their memory and to promote wisdom. During the Middle Ages, sage was used extensively against cholera, high fever and epilepsy. During the Toulouse plague in 1690, it is said that thieves washed themselves in water strongly infused with sage and rosemary extract, to protect themselves from deadly infections while looting the dead lying in the streets.

The essential oil of sage contains thujone, borneol, and phenolic acids which are powerful antiseptics and antibacterials.

source: Nancy Gaifyllia
 source :  More Herbs  @  About Food

 

 

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