BAY LEAVES come from the bay laurel tree, an aromatic evergree or large shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region. The bay laurel has been cultiviated since the beginning of recorded history, originating in Asia Minor and spread to other countries with similar warm climates. Turkey is one of the main exporters, although they are also grown in areas of Albania, France, Italy, Russia, Central American, North America and India.
Many ancient mythologies glorify the laurel as a symbol of honor and were worn as a sign of victory or acheivement upon their heads in wreaths. In the Elizabethan era, some people believed pinning bay leaves to one's pillow on the eve of Saint Valentine's Day would permit one to see one's future spouse in a dream.
Bay leaves also make beautiful wreaths for the holidays or just as everyday decoration. See how to make this gorgeous wreath here:
Fresh bay leaves are rarely available and are bitter-tasting. Dried bay leaves are the preferred way to use them in recipes. Uses vary from soups to stews to seafood and vegetable dishes. The leaves are used whole and removed before serving.
Other uses for the bay laurel is as bug and insect repelent. Scattered bay leaves in a pantry will keep away meal moths, flies, roaches and silverfish. Crushed, fresh, youg leaves placed in an open jar under a layer of paper will release a vapor that will kill insects (slowly, but effectively).
What are some of your recipes that uses bay leaves?