Status And Uses
Some readers of a statistical turn of mind may be disappointed to learn
that figures as to the value of the annual crops of individual herbs,
the acreage devoted to each, the average cost, yield and profit an acre,
etc., are not obtainable and that the only way of determining the
approximate standing of the various species is the apparent demand for
each in the large markets and stores.
greatest call is for parsley, which is used in
restaurants and hotels more extensively as a garnish than any other
herb. In this capacity it ranks about equal with watercress and lettuce,
which both find their chief uses as salads. As a flavoring agent it is
probably less used than sage, but more than any of the other herbs. It
is chiefly employed in dressings with mild meats such as chicken,
turkey, venison, veal, with baked fish; and for soups, stews, and
sauces, especially those used with boiled meats, fish and fricassees of
the meats mentioned. Thus it has a wider application than any other of
the culinary herbs.
Sage, which is a strongly flavored plant, is used chiefly with such fat
meats as pork, goose, duck, and various kinds of game. Large quantities
are mixed with sausage meat and, in some countries, with certain kinds
of cheese. Throughout the United States it is probably the most
frequently called into requisition of all herbs, probably outranking any
two of the others, with the exception of parsley.
Thyme and savory stand about equal, and are chiefly used like parsley,
though both, especially the former, are used in certain kinds of
sausage. Marjoram, which is similarly employed, comes next, then follow
balm, fennel, and basil. These milder herbs are often mixed for much the
same reason that certain simple perfumes are blended--to produce a new
odor--combinations of herbs resulting in a new compound flavor. Such
compounds are utilized in the same way that the elementary herbs are.
In classes by themselves are tarragon and spearmint, the former of which
is chiefly used as a decoction in the flavoring of fish sauces, and the
latter as the universal dressing with spring lamb. Mint has also a more
convivial use, but this seems more the province of the W. C. T. U. than
of this book to discuss.
Dill is probably the most important of the herbs whose seeds, rather
than their leaves, are used in flavoring food other than confectionery.
It plays its chief role in the pickle barrel. Immense quantities of
cucumber pickles flavored principally with dill are used in the
restaurants of the larger cities and also by families, the foreign-born
citizens and their descendants being the chief consumers. The demand for
these pickles is met by the leading pickle manufacturers who prepare
special brands, generally according to German recipes, and sell them to
the delicatessen and the grocery stores. If they were to rely upon me
for business, they would soon go bankrupt. To my palate the dill pickle
appeals as almost the acme of disagreeableness.