Thursday, December 31, 2009

Food Facts with Jess: Barley, Bay Leaves, and Thyme

If you're like me, I want to know as much as possible about the history of the foods I eat. So, here are some really interesting tidbits about two spices and one grain that I bought today, courtesy of European Breads Bakery and Dan-D-Pak respectively.

Barley: Barley played an important role in ancient Greek culture as a staple bread-making grain, as well as an important food for athletes who attributed much of their strength to their barley-containing training diets. roman athletes continued this tradition of honoring barley for the strength that it gave them. Gladiators were known as hordearii, which means "eaters of barley".

Bay Leaves: Bay leaves are the aromatic dried leaves of the evergreen tree, Laurus nobilis. Sometimes referred to as laurel, bay leaves have a distinctively strong, spicy flavour and can be used whole or dried and ground. In Ancient Greece and rome, bay leaves and branches were used as wreaths to crown victorious athletes while the English believed bay leaves brought good luck. the term "baccalaureate" refers to the ancient practice of honoring scholars with garlands of laurel or bay leaves. 

Thyme: Thyme comes from the dried leaves of Thymus Vulgaris, a member of the mint family. In ancient Greece, thyme symbolized courage. Ladies in Medieval Europe decorated the scarves of knights with a sprig of thyme as a sign of bravery. 

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