may have learned his first herb lore by watching animals. I have
always been fascinated that our two cats (who are much brighter than
most) eat a little of Catharine's dill when their stomachs are upset,
use her mint to keep their breath fresh and take in an occasional
spot of catnip for relaxation purposes.
Early man had various but limited options for injury and disease.
Herbs were highly regarded because of their medicinal potency. The
Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans have practiced herbal medicine
for nearly 4,000 years, and along the course of time, many remedies
and traditions have been passed on to our part of the globe. It has
been recorded that man has found a herb for nearly every malady.
Over the ensuing several millennium, our ancestors discovered that
herbs were useful for reasons other than medicinal -- namely for
fragrance and flavor.
During the so-called Dark Ages, the air was considered
unhealthful. Little wonder, the streets served as garbage sites and
probably smelled similar to Aliso Creek on a bad day. Strewing,
nosegays and aromatherapy, all derived from herbs, provided fragrance
to mask many of these everyday aromas. Some even thought herbs
contained properties that could ward off disease.
Old recipe books show that cooks used herbs to flavor beverages
and season food. Of course, without refrigeration, meats were served
in some state of decay. Without heavy seasoning, it would have been
difficult to stomach most meals.
Today, the tradition of herbs continues. Modern science allows us
to isolate and identify the active ingredients of most plants.
Scientists have discovered that certain herbs used for healing have a
firm foundation in medicine. One of the best examples is the
foxglove, which is used in treating heart disease.
Renewed interest in aromatherapy and landscaping uses represents
our continued reliance on herbs. Many of us grow herbs for culinary
uses because of their great taste and the pleasure of cultivating our
own fresh food.
One of my favorite uses of herbs is in teas. It has been said that
tea can relieve a thousand different ailments, and it provides a
sense of decency and luxuriousness. There are few hours in life more
agreeable than the hour the English dedicate each day to the
afternoon tea. I present my favorite beverage:
Catharine's Herb Tea
11/2 cups cold water
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon sage
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme 1 teaspoon mint
1 teaspoon raw, unfiltered wild honey
Combine water and herbs in your tea kettle. Cover and boil about
10 minutes. Uncover and simmer about five minutes. The tea is ready
when the liquid is reduced by 1/3 and darker than a strong coffee.
Strain into a suitable cup and add wild honey. Most relaxing and a
wonderful diluent for CC's husband. See you next time.
* STEVE KAWARATANI is the owner of Landscapes by Laguna Nursery,
1278 Glenneyre in Laguna Beach. He is married to local artist,
Catharine Cooper, and has two cats. He can be reached at (949)
497-2438, or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.