Around the World – Week 4 of the 2015 Herb CSA

In this week’s parcel, we have included:

Coriander Leaves (Cilantro)

Native to Southern Europe and the Middle East

Fennel Frond

Native to Italy

Nasturtium Flower

Native to the Andes Mountains in Peru

Holy Basil

Native to South Asia

Hyssop

Native to Southern Europe


Cilantro

Coriander 1

Cilantro has a fresh, grassy, pervading, insect-like aroma, and lemony, clean, appetizing taste. It is one of the most ancient of herbs, being mentioned in the bible, Coriander seeds found in the tombs of pharaohs, and it was known to be a favorite among the Greeks, Hebrews and Romans of antiquity. It is used mostly in Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Peruvian, and Mexican recipes.

The ancient Chinese believed that consuming coriander would confer immortality.


Fennel

Fennel 1

The lacy fronds have a delicate anise flavor and may be used in much the same way as green dill in salads and white sauces, with seafood and to garnish terrines, soups and aspic. Steaming a whole fish on a bed of fresh
fennel foliage is a traditional way to impart its aromatic flavor during cooking.

In the 16th century fennel was the symbol of flattery, leading to the colloquial saying dare finocchio, which means “to give fennel.”


Nasturtium

Nasturtium Flower 1

For generations natives used every part of this flower for a source of food and for its medicinal purposes. The English then brought it back to Europe and started cultivating it for its sensual aroma and oriental arrangements. Nasturtium has a wonderful spicy, peppery flavor a little like radish, only sweeter and tangier.

A tonic made with nasturtiums can prevent baldness. French herbalist, Messengue, made a hair lotion with two handfuls of nasturtium flowers, leaves and seeds, ten nettle leaves and three oak leaves. These ingredients were macerated in 1-1/2 pints of 90% alcohol for two weeks, then strained and rubbed into the scalp. 


Holy Basil

Holy Basil2

Also known as Tulsi, Holy Basil is widely used for religious, medical and culinary purposes. The leaves, called kaphrao in Thai, are commonly used in Thai cuisine. Holy basil is a common ingredient in Thai food and has many medicinal uses. In India, it is often prescribed by Ayurvedic practitioners as a treatment for stress, fever, influenza, headaches, insomnia, and upset stomach. The leaves of this plant are used as a mosquito repellent.

Holy basil is considered by Hindus to be the earthly incarnation of the goddess Tulsi who is a companion of the god Vishnu. Because tulsi is considered to be a manifestation of deity on earth, it is seen as a connection point to heaven, and so tulsi leaves are placed in the mouths of people who are dying in order to ensure a safe journey into celestial realms.


Hyssop

Hyssop 2
Native to Southern Europe, the Middle East, and the region surrounding the Caspian Sea. Hyssop is commonly used as a medicinal due to its properties as an antiseptic, cough reliever, and expectorant. Chop fresh young leaves and scatter onto salads, meat or oily fish dishes, or use to flavor soups, stews and fruit dishes.

Hyssop produces high amounts of thujone and phenol, which are stimulants of the nervous and gastrointestinal system.

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