30.5.08

What's the real deal with herbs?

I have written herb snippets in the past. I guess this would be good as any time to revisit these perfumed culinary creations of God. It used to be that herbs were part and parcel of Italian and French cooking. Not anymore. Because today, the world over, herbs have found its niche in haute cuisine as well as ordinary, everyday cooking.

Wasn't it said in Genesis 1
, "let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so."

Herbs especially fresh provide the aroma from coriander, lemon grass, basil, mint, oregano, rosemary which chefs from different continents can't cook without. The zest and the allure of herbs have been there since time immemorial. Italian monks have been known to grow herbs centuries ago.

Asian cuis
ines would never be the same without lime, curry, sweet basil, or turmeric? And what about Scarborough Fair's parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme? This herb grouping have provided all the fragrant reasons for being in some of the most flavorful dishes of the world.

My favorite herbs are basil, oregano and bay leaf. There are around thirty types of basil. Admired f
or its flavor it is good for garnish as well. And oregano which is essentially wild marjoram and usually concocted with sweet tomato, pork and other strong meat dishes. And what of bay leaves? Save for its culinary fragrant function, it is said to perform ornamental function as well. I haven't seen one, but in Italy, they said you'll find bay leaf plants shaped into a topiary and serve as window ornaments. How aesthetically enriching is that?
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