Culinary Medicine, the use of spices and other substances in cooking to treat ailments and promote health, is a delicate art. Taste and flavor are as equally important as the medical effects and qualities produced. At best, culinary medicine is a non-evasive method of administering general medical treatment. At the least, it can create the ideal operation of the human body by stabilizing health and nutrition over time. This is a particularly interesting field which has outstanding potential. These pages attempt to establish a foundation for the delicate balance of health and luxury.

Most spicy herbs do have traditional medical values, although experts disagree as to the specific benefit and effectiveness of most. All could be regarded as digestants, carminatives (which help remove excess air from the stomach) and bowel function improvers. Many are used in aromatherapy as topical agents that improve skin condition and result in pleasurable sensations such as relaxation or calmness. Some may be used as incenses or room air fresheners, or be incorporated in cosmetics and body lotions, both for their pleasant sensory qualities and for possible healing properties. A few herbs are often used to treat pharyngitis, coughs and bronchitis, but are likely to be used in combination with medical herbal extracts from eucalyptus, camphor, benzoin, aloes and so on.

Before beginning, it is important to understand the premise under which food and substances enter and travel throughout the body for use. (Suggested reading: The Digestive System and The Endocrine System. It takes only 6 seconds for swallowed food to reach the stomach, but may take much longer for the digestive process to make use of the materials swallowed. For example, simple sugars and alcohols are absorbed into the blood stream almost immediately, while proteins and other complex substances may take several hours. Thus the reason culinary medicine is more often used as a preventative measure rather than an immediate solution.

Since these pages are designed under the premise of medicine, there are no detailed pages on how to use either fresh or dried herbs. Some guidance for preparation is given under the description of each herb, but it is assumed that knowledge on cooking and kitchen activities is already possessed. It may be necessary for the inexperienced to experiment with different flavor combinations before feeling comfortable serving up a dish using any of the spices on these pages.

Types of Herbs

Some herbs blend harmoniously with almost any food; others with only a few. Herbs are divided into three groups (Pungent, Accent, and Blendable). One should depend on those in the first and second groups to supply leading flavors and on those in the third group and on the less pungent in the second group to complete the blends.

Tips & Tricks

~ Use with a light hand - the aromatic oils are strong, and too much of any flavor is objectionable.

~ Blend judiciously for different purposes. Have a leading flavor and combine two to four less pronounced flavors with it. Never emphasize more than one of the very strong herbs in a blend. Blends should be so subtle that only the expert can tell which herbs are used.

~ Blend or heat with butter, margarine, or other cooking fats as the best way to draw out and extend the flavor of the aromatic oils. Fresh (unsalted) "sweet" butter gives more satisfactory results than salted butter or margarine. Have oils tepid, not chilled, when utilizing herbs.

~ Cut or chop the leaves of fresh herbs very fine. For some purposes they should be ground in a mortar. The more of the cut surface exposed, the more completely the aromatic oil can be absorbed.

~ Keep in mind that dried herbs are three or four times stronger than fresh herbs.

~ Overcooking may destroy the aroma and flavor of many herbs.

~ For soups and gravies, tie sprigs of fresh herbs in tiny bunches (bouquets) or place ground herbs in cheesecloth bags and add them about half an hour before the cooking is finished, removing as soon as they have served their purpose.

Best Herbal Blends for Certain Foods

Below are suggestions of main food items and the herbal combination(s) that go well with them. It is intended as an aid for the beginning only, as each individual may desire to experiment once becoming familiar with the various herb flavors.

  • Bosk (Beef) ~ After removal from the oven, roasts may be flavored by spreading sweet marjoram flavored butter or finely chopped fresh or powdered dry marjoram leaves over the surface. Steaks broiled or fried may be topped with butter flavored with dill, marjoram, thyme, or parsley and a little lemon juice, or the surface may be sprinkled with the finely chopped herbs immediately after removal from the fire. Stews or loaves may be made more appetizing by adding small quantities of one or more of the following: Thyme, sweet marjoram, summer savory, chervil, parsley, or celery.
  • Tarsk (Pork) ~ Chops may be rubbed with lemon juice, powdered sweet marjoram, and a few seeds of caraway before cooking, and topped with dill butter after cooking. Fresh ham rubbed with powdered sage before cooking and served with a pan of dressing flavored with poultry seasoning creates an illusion of turkey. Sausage and other ground or chopped meats are usually flavored with sage, either alone or in combination with other herbs.
  • Verr (Lamb) Various combinations of marjoram, thyme, parsley, garlic, or onion may be used. Dill butter :or chopped dill leaves with hot butter may be spread on lamb chops.
  • Veal ~ Thyme or marjoram is generally used in combination with summer savory and chervil; also marjoram and basil with thin slices of veal dipped in flour, egg, and crumbs and cooked in deep fat.
  • Vulo, Gant, etc (Poultry / Fowl) ~ Various combinations of poultry seasoning made of fresh or dried leaves of basil, lovage, marjoram, parsley, rosemary, summer savory, sage, and thyme may be used to add variety to the different dishes prepared from chicken, turkey, and other fowl.
  • Fish ~ Broiled or fried fish may have pleasing flavors added by using dill butter or finely chopped dill, basil, or tarragon leaves. Shrimp may be simmered in butter with chopped basil leaves, and clam chowder may be served with a dash of powdered thyme.
  • Eggs ~ The many egg dishes that are so commonly prepared may be agreeably varied in flavor by using one of the "fine herbs"—basil, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, or tarragon—for special accent, blended with chervil, chive, parsley, summer savory, celery, or a small quantity of another "fine herb" chopped or powdered and used as such or in the form of herb butters. Winter savory, parsley, onion juice, and celery tops give a robust flavor to winter omelets when other fresh herbs are not available.
  • Beverages ~ Hot or cold tea may be flavored by adding sprigs of curly mint, apple mint, orange mint, spearmint, lemon balm, or lemon thyme. Refreshing drinks may be brewed from lemon balm, almost all mints, lemon thyme, or sage and served with a slice of lemon and sugar if desired. Tomato juice may be pleasingly flavored by adding chopped onion, celery or lovage, basil, and tarragon. After it has stood several hours strain and serve cold with lemon or lime.

Herb Butter

Fats make good media for absorbing herb flavors for ready use. One of the best ways for beginners to learn to use the different herbs is to combine them with fats in the form of herb butters. Fresh unsalted butter is especially satisfactory, because it readily absorbs the delicate herb flavors. Salted butter, margarine, tarsk drippings, and rendered vulo fat can also be used. Good combinations for herb butter are made with parsley or chive, singly, together, or combined with one or more other herbs.

Culinary Medicine

Note: Not all herbs and spices listed below are explicitly referenced in the Books of Gor. Use Your own discretion.

  • Allspice (Pimento)

  • Flavor ~ Pungent, mixed, spicy.
    Main Use ~ Pickles, wines, desserts, liquors.
    Medicinal Use ~ Relieve nausea and other stomach issues. Flavoring.

  • Anise

  • Flavor ~ Licorice-like, sweet
    Main Use ~ Pastries, candies, liquors.
    Medicinal Use ~ Disguise taste of more pungent flavors.

  • Basil

  • Flavor ~Warm, aromatic, sweet.
    Main Use ~Salads, soups and casseroles with tomatoes, eggs, fish, chicken, or lamb.
    Medicinal Use ~A tonic against rheumatism, eases stomach pains.

  • Bay Leaf

  • Flavor ~Bitter, pungent.
    Main Use ~Used to flavor soups, meats, tomato sauces and casseroles.
    Medicinal Use ~Used externally for sprains and bruises.

  • Chocolate

  • Flavor ~Warm, sweet, aromatic.
    Main Use ~Beverages, spices, pasta and confectionery foods.
    Medicinal Use ~Diuretic, stimulant, aphrodisiac

  • Cardamom

  • Flavor ~Pungent, eucalyptus-like.
    Main Use ~Desserts, coffees, curries.
    Medicinal Use ~Aids digestion. Treats congestion. Flavoring.

  • Caraway

  • Flavor ~Pungent, sweet and tangy.
    Main Use ~Tubers, creamy salads, tarsk dishes, breads and pastries.
    Medicinal Use ~Stimulate appetite.

  • Cayenne

  • Flavor ~Pungent, fiery.
    Main Use ~Flavoring.
    Medicinal Use ~Stimulate digestion; analgesic.

  • Celery

  • Flavor ~Sweet, pungent.
    Main Use ~Pickling. Fish, soups and stews, salads, salad dressings, and other dishes where celery flavor is desired.
    Medicinal Use ~Diuretic, cleansing herb. Especially for treatment of rheumatism, arthritis and gout.

  • Chervil

  • Flavor ~Sweet, grassy, touch of licorice flavor.
    Main Use ~Egg and fish dishes, soups and stews, sauces, salads, and butters.
    Medicinal Use ~Lowers blood pressure, diuretic.

  • Chive

  • Flavor ~Light, aromatic, hint of onion flavor.
    Main Use ~Egg, cheese and vegetable dishes, soups and salads.
    Medicinal Use ~Appetite Enhancer.

  • Cilantro and Coriander

  • Flavor ~Warm, aromatic, sweet.
    Main Use ~Sauces, curries, meat dishes, chutney. Dressings in combination with other spices.
    Medicinal Use ~Aids in digestion. Anti-microbial.

  • Cinnamon

  • Flavor ~Sweet, fragrant, pungent.
    Main Use ~Breads, pastries, desserts, beverages.
    Medicinal Use ~Used to disguise the flavor and stimulate the use of other herbs.

  • Cloves

  • Flavor ~Sweet, pungent, astringent.
    Main Use ~Meats and sauces.
    Medicinal Use ~Anesthetic.

  • Costmary

  • Flavor ~Strong, lemon-mint flavor.
    Main Use ~Leaves may be used with meats, poultry, and tea.
    Medicinal Use ~Flavoring and aromatic.

  • Cumin

  • Flavor ~Peppery, aromatic.
    Main Use ~Breads, pork dishes, chili, curries.
    Medicinal Use ~Colic.

  • Dill

  • Flavor ~Bitter-sweet, cool.
    Main Use ~Potatoes, fishes, pickles, sour cream sauces. Pickling
    Medicinal Use ~Aids digestion.

  • Fennel

  • Flavor ~Licorice-like, warm.
    Main Use ~Anise flavor used in pickles, biscuits, fish or pork, sauces and salads.
    Medicinal Use ~Appetite stimulant.

  • Fenugreek

  • Flavor ~Like burnt sugar, bitter.
    Main Use ~Curries and breads.
    Medicinal Use ~Control of diabetes.

  • Garlic

  • Flavor ~Fiery, alliaceous.
    Main Use ~Meats and marinades.
    Medicinal Use ~Expectorant.

  • Honey

  • Flavor ~Sweet, sugary.
    Main Use ~Breads, desserts, beverages.
    Medicinal Use ~Flavoring, antibacterial properties.

  • Lovage

  • Flavor ~Celery-like flavor.
    Main Use ~The leaves impart to soups, salads, and fish a flavor very similar to that of celery.
    Medicinal Use ~Diuretic and carmative.

  • Marjoram

  • Flavor ~Sweet, mild, slightly bitter.
    Main Use ~Veal, liver, herb butter, egg dishes and meat, poultry stuffings and soups, and vegetables.
    Medicinal Use ~Stimulant, mildly tonic properties.

  • Nutmeg and Mace

  • Flavor ~Warm, sharp, sweet, nutty.
    Main Use ~Desserts and beverages.
    Medicinal Use ~Diarrhea.

  • Parsley

  • Flavor ~Mild, peppery flavor.
    Main Use ~Garnishes, flavoring in soups, vegetables, salads, meats, and poultry.
    Medicinal Use ~General tonic; bad breath.

  • Rosemary

  • Flavor ~Unique pine-like flavor balanced by a rich pungency.
    Main Use ~Cream soups made of leafy greens, poultry, stews, and sauces.
    Medicinal Use ~Tonic; digestive aid.

  • Saffron

  • Flavor ~Pungent, bitter.
    Main Use ~Bouillabaisses; rice dishes.
    Medicinal Use ~Reduce fever.

  • Sage

  • Flavor ~Sweet, savory.
    Main Use ~Used sparingly with onion for stuffing pork, ducks, or geese. Rub on the outside of fresh pork, ham, and loin.
    Medicinal Use ~Treats bloating, diarrhea, flatulence and other stomach ailments.

  • Summer and Winter Savory

  • Flavor ~Summer savory tastes like peppery thyme. Winter savory is stronger and more pine-like.
    Main Use ~Used in soups, stuffings, and sauces for veal and poultry, and also in egg dishes and salads. This herb is one of the most satisfactory mixers.
    Medicinal Use ~Expectorant, thirst quenching.

  • Tamarind

  • Flavor ~Sour, fruity.
    Main Use ~Rice, meats.
    Medicinal Use ~Pharyngitis.

  • Tarragon

  • Flavor ~Bittersweet with a hint of licorice.
    Main Use ~Green salads, salad dressings, salad vinegars, fish sauces, tartare sauce, and some egg dishes.
    Medicinal Use ~Tonic.

  • Thyme

  • Flavor ~Pungent and woody. Blends well with almost all other herbs and draws out their flavors.
    Main Use ~Stuffings and roasts.
    Medicinal Use ~An expectorant, antibacterial and antiseptic. Gargle to ease sore throat. Oil of thyme is used for perfumes.

  • Turmeric

  • Flavor ~Warm, acrid, bitter.
    Main Use ~Curries.
    Medicinal Use ~Dye and antiseptic.

  • Vanilla

  • Flavor ~Fragrant, sweet, delicious.
    Main Use ~Desserts and beverages.
    Medicinal Use ~Flavoring.

  • Zingiber (Ginger)

  • Flavor ~Fiery, pungent.
    Main Use ~Cultural cooking.
    Medicinal Use ~Anti-emetic.

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