Bay Leaves found their way into society many centuries ago. During the earliest Olympics in Greece the Bay Leaves were formed into a crown and placed upon each event winners head. Personally I would prefer a Gold Medal of today’s Olympic Games. Back in the day, however, it was only a crown of Bay Leaves from the Laurel Tree. The origin of this fabulous herb is the Mediterranean area of Turkey and its surrounding neighbors. Mythology has it, that the Greek Gods Apollo and Delphi had a regrettable encounter and Apollo blessed the Laurel Tree afterwards. Ever since, the popularity of Bay Leaves is gone unquestioned. It has had many uses over the years, like many other herbs and spices that we enjoy today. During The Middle Ages Bay Leaves were used as a medicine and an insecticide. Now we eat it! Go figure.
Bay Leaves today have a rich, gentle, savory flavor. Meats, soups and sauces are particularly enhanced by the use of this herb. I certainly use it in all my meat dishes when a slow simmer is required. Goes great in Chili, Spaghetti Sauce, Gravies, Stews, and Soups. When compared to the bolder herbs and spices it falls short of grabbing your attention. Don’t let this dissuade you in the least. Simmering in almost any elegant and delicious meal you will find Bay Leaves. While Oregano and Cilantro are far more flavorful and popular in today’s cuisine, you will miss the soft touch and gentle flavor of Bay Leaves if you omit them.
Finally, you should know this. Bay Leaves are not flamboyant and certainly don’t do well as a loner. Bay Leaves should be thought of as “Party Animals”. They aren’t any fun alone and need lots of friends. Knowing this will make you a better cook. Most spices and herbs are enriched with the use of Bay Leaves. Use all the herbs and spices you desire in a recipe and then add Bay Leaves last. It will bring out all the other flavors in your dish. It won’t steal the show either. You can thank me later! Enjoy this herb.