As the name suggests, this is a delicately balanced bouquet of finely flavored herbs found in French cuisine. Much of the fresh taste in fines herbes is contributed by herbs such as parsley, chervil and Lovage, while distinct anise notes and an appetite-enhancing tang are imparted by dill and tarragon. A fines herbes blend, which may also be used as salad herbs, is made by mixing the following quantities of either fresh or dried finely chopped herbs. This recipe calls for dill, but many use chives in its place. If you find chives more to your liking, you can substitute them instead.
2 tbsp. (25 mL) parsley
1 tbsp. (15 mL) chervil
1 tbsp. (15 mL) Lovage
2 tsp. (10 mL) green dill tips
2 tsp. (10 mL) French tarragon
A mild and subtle herb, with a savory, grassy flavor, parsley complements most dishes it is combined with and never seems to dominate, yet always manages to make its presence felt. It is relatively high in vitamins A and C and iron.
The ancient Greeks believed parsley sprung from the blood of the hero Archemorus after he was killed by a dragon.
The aroma of freshly bruised chervil leaves is grassy and delicately anise scented; the flavor is similar to French tarragon.
Folklore has it that chervil makes one merry, sharpens the wit, bestows youth upon the aged and symbolizes sincerity.
The flavor of Lovage leaves is slightly yeasty and reminds one of a combination of celery and parsley, with a very mild peppery bite.
Lovage can also be added to bathwater for a deodorizing bath, or for smelly feet, place a few leaves in the bottom of shoes.
Fresh dill tips have a distinct parsley-like aroma and a subtle hint of anise. Both the leaves and seeds of dill are popular for flavoring pickles, sauerkraut, and beet dishes. It can be combined with garlic and pepper to produce a highly flavored Mediterranean or East European pork roast (often cooked over a spit outdoors). The seeds yield a fragrant oil.
Old wives tales recommend boiling dill in wine and then inhaling the fumes to cure hiccups.
French tarragon has a licorice-anise aroma and tart, lingering, appetite-appealing flavor. Leaves yield flavor to vinegar when steeped. It is best to use fresh young leaves and stem tips. Flavor is lost when tarragon is dried.
On the other hand, there is some lore that indicates chewing fresh tarragon will cure hiccups.
Ian Hemphill – Kate Hemphill – The Spice and Herb Bible – R. Rose – 2006