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Bay Laurel

June 26, 2014 , , ,

Laurus nobilis is a shrub or tree native to Asia Minor, popular in the Mediterranean, known and used for centuries. It was sacred to Apollo, the sun god in Greece, and had been used in Mesopotamia as protective incense.  In the fourth century AD Greek magician and philosopher Proclus Diadochos  stated that bay laurel branches were used in ceremonial work to banish spirits.  The use of  crowns of laurel leaves to award victors in the contests started at the Pythian games, in honor of Apollo who revered the plant.  The custom spread and the laurel assumed a meaning of victory or triumph in Rome.  A sudden withering or visible demise of a bay tree in the yard was considered to be a very bad omen for the owner.

The leaves are poisonous in large doses, and the sharp edges of the leaves can damage your digestive tract if ingested.  They can be used in cooking either by themselves or in a bouquet garni that is removed before serving and thrown away. The flavor is exotic, lending deep flavor to sauces, stews, and pickles.  Although it is less common to use bay leaves to season dessert dishes, here are some great ideas:

Try using  bay leaf in new ways. Become the cook laureate of your kitchen.

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comments

I love bay leaf. It always goes into my spaghetti sauce . I will have to try your recipes for the glaze, the ice cream and the roasted pears (OH MY!)

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Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

June 27, 2014

I grow bay on my roof terrace. For some reason my mum told me it was meant to protect the household from illness

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London-Unattached.com

June 27, 2014

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