The world of herbs: The wonderful world of herbs is at your fingertips since most of them can be grown on your window sill year round. A leaf or two from a basil or sage plant, a few sprigs of parsley, a nasturtium leaf, a few blades of chives, can add a dash of flavor to most dishes. Not all of these at once, of course, but each do have their own special place in your kitchen. Taken separately they tell different tales:
This genus of herbs is onions, chives, garlic, leeks and many more. Believe it or not, the lily group is the family of the clan. Each has their own distinct flavor but they share common characteristics. In this case the flavor they share is not so much that strong onion flavor but their growing pattern. All seven hundred varieties grow from bulbs. Another common thing about bulbs in general is that they are “fleshy leaves that grow underground and surround the stem.” That is not common knowledge and is probably known only by the most avid gardeners and botanists. Yet, now that I know I will henceforth look at an onion differently. Furthering that food for thought, even though it is a lowly onion, I now see that the reason onions are keepers is that their food storage, the leaves that form the bulb, was designed that way. A very clever idea. Who, except the master planner could have planned this so well?
Botanically listed as Ocinum Basilcum, basil, of the family Lamiaceia, is a wonderfully fragrant herb that is popular with cooks. It is known to practically everyone. It is easy to grow, although delicate needing to be protected from cold. Its uses are many in the food industry as well as in fragrance factories. Just sniffing it is a treat. The fresh variety is preferred over the dried but both work well in the kitchen.
Dill or Anethum genus belongs to the carrot family. Anethum graveolens is the botanical name, dill is the common name. Whatever its name it is a mouth puckering herb with a sour taste. Its association with carrots is not in the taste but in the shape of the feathery leaves and its overall above ground growth. Its most popular use, other than in pickling, is as a salad ingredient. Parsley: Parsley is an old herb but is modern as a kitchen herb. It is so common it’s almost overlooked and often not treated more than a weed. As to the shape of the leaf, there are flat leaved parsley and curly leaved parsley and a third one that is not as commonly used, Humburg parsley. Its tuberous roots are used in soups. Its leaves are considered too strong for salads and for cooking. Petroselinum, the botanical name for parsley is so named because it was found growing among the hilly rock-strewn areas of Ancient Greece. Legends about it abound; having claims both to medicine and to religion. Symbolically, it represents birth and renewal during Passover to the Jews. From Italy, its native habitat, it has spread all over the world.