The Bay Laurel, also known as the True Laurel, Sweet Bay, Grecian Laurel or Bay Tree, is an aromatic evergreen tree shrub that reaches 10-18 meters tall.Â The shrub is native to the sweet shores of the Mediterranean, where just about everything wonderful originates from.
The Bay Laurel is the source of the bay leaves which are used for their flavor in cooking.Â It was also the source of the laurel wreath of ancient Greece, and therefore the expression of “resting on one’s laurels”.Â A wreath of bay laurels was given as the prize at the Pythian Games, a forerunner of the Olympic Games held at the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi.Â It is also the source of the word ‘baccalaureate’ (laurel berry) and thus ‘bachelor’ and ‘poet laureate’.Â I love food R & D, it’s fascinating!
(Cincinnatus Returning to his Plough Decorated with Laurel Wreath, Charles Poerson)
The leaves of the Bay Laurel are commonly used in the culinary kitchen.Â It is picked by hand, weighted down to prevent curling and dried in the shade.Â Oh, to have the life of a bay leaf (besides the weighted down part)!Â Drying the leaves in the sun causes them to turn a light shade of brown and lose much of their essential oil.Â The flavors intensifies with proper drying and give off a delicate aromatic scent while offering a mildly bitter taste.Â
While bay leaves are frequently used in soups, fish and meat dishes; they are ready to serve you in just about any culinary endeavor.Â Stay tuned for the Basic Bay Leaf- Infused Chicken Stock Recipe.