The Daily Dish: Smell your herbs

herbs in a garden

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Wake up and smell your herbs.

Fresh herbs are simply wonderful. The use of fresh herbs has exploded in the American kitchen today. I recall that as a young apprentice in Italy at my aunt’s apron strings, for every herb we had in the garden there was a pot on the stove to match.

Some herbs are better to cook with, while others were better added at the end to finish a dish. For example rosemary, bay leaves, and thyme are mostly used in long cooking where their oils are extracted slowly.

Meanwhile sage, oregano, and marjoram need very little cooking time. And herbs such as basil, parsley, and mint are great to toss in at the end—just enough to release their refreshing aromas.

And if you have small children, a wonderful way to introduce them to these aromas is to gently crush the herbs in your hands and let them smell it.

I always did this with my children and grandchildren when they were very small. It’s a great way to get them excited about the world of herbs and food at an early age.

At New York’s Felidia and Becco in New York and Lidia’s Kansas City and Pittsburgh we actually do spring herb menus where all these wonderful ingredients are used.

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lidia bastianichLidia Matticchio Bastianich was born in Pola, Istria, on the northeastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. She is a cookbook author, restaurateur, and TV chef extraordinaire. Watch Lidia’s Italy Saturdays at 1:30pm on WGBH 2 or Sundays at 4pm on WGBH 44.

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3 Responses

  1. i have a bunch of fresh live herbs in water in my kitchen and every time i go near them, i am greeted with a perfume of fresh smells. your post reminded me of that.

  2. Herbal plants used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine are facing extinction.
    Definite cause of concern, as Ayurveda is increasingly being used around the world to treat various disorders such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, ulcers and many others.

    Some herbs that have been identified are – Ulteria salicfolia, Hydnocarpus pentandra, Gymnocladus assamicus, and Begonia tessaricarpa.

    Conservation of traditional herbs and plants should become a high priority for all. Challenge
    becomes more severe as many of these herbs grow in the wild and are not cultivated.

    Planet Green (a discovery.com venture) reported on this earlier this month.

    http://ayurvedagroup.com/blog/2010/93-of-ayurvedas-wild-medicinal-plants- threatened-with-extinction/

  3. Ahhh, alas the Japanese Beetles have found my basil – and consumed 90% of it overnight….

    Hot summer in New England…

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