Culinary Herbs: Their Cultivation, Harvesting, Curing and Usesby M G Kains
It seems probable that many of the flavoring herbs now in use were similarly employed before the erection of the pyramids and also that many then popular no longer appear in modern lists of esculents. Of course, this statement is based largely upon imperfect records, perhaps, in many
Culinary Herbs - Their Cultivation, Harvesting, Curing and Uses by M. G. Kains.
It seems probable that many of the flavoring herbs now in use were similarly employed before the erection of the pyramids and also that many then popular no longer appear in modern lists of esculents. Of course, this statement is based largely upon imperfect records, perhaps, in many cases only hints more or less doubtful as to the various species. But it seems safe to conclude that a goodly number of the herbs discussed in this volume, especially those said to be natives of the Mediterranean region, overhung and perfumed the cradle of the human race in the Orient and marked the footsteps of our rude progenitors as they strode more and more sturdily toward the horizon of promise. This idea seems to gain support also from the fact that certain Eastern peoples, whom modern civilization declares to have uneducated tastes, still employ many herbs which have dropped by the wayside of progress, or like the caraway and the redoubtable "pusley," an anciently popular potherb, are but known in western lands as troublesome weeds.
Relying upon Biblical records alone, several herbs were highly esteemed prior to our era; in the gospels of Matthew and Luke reference is made to tithes of mint, anise, rue, cummin and other "herbs"; and, more than 700 years previously, Isaiah speaks of the sowing and threshing of cummin which, since the same passage (Isaiah xxviii, 25) also speaks of "fitches" (vetches), wheat, barley and "rie" (rye), seems then to have been a valued crop.
The development of the herb crops contrasts strongly with that of the other crops to which reference has just been made. Whereas these latter have continued to be staples, and to judge by their behavior during the last century may be considered to have improved in quality and yield since that ancient time, the former have dropped to the most subordinate position of all food plants. They have lost in number of species, and have shown less improvement than perhaps any other groups of plants cultivated for economic purposes. During the century just closed only one species, parsley, may be said to have developed more than an occasional improved variety. And even during this period the list of species seems to have been somewhat curtailed--tansy, hyssop, horehound, rue and several others being considered of too pronounced and even unpleasant flavor to suit cultivated palates.
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