Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bay Leaves

I thought I'd take a moment to talk about one of a chef's best friends: bay leaves. When speaking in culinary terms, bay most often refers to a certain member of the laurel family (you know, the crowns of laurels that the ancient Romans would often wear on their heads). This Mediterranean bay leaf is an excellent addition to a variety of dishes, from soups to rice. One must be careful however to remove the bay leaves before serving the dish. Count 'em going in, and count 'em coming out. This is because the bay leaf tends to stay stiff, even after several hours of cooking, and is in fact (so I've heard) the number one cause of choking in restaurants.

There is another type of bay leaf, the Californian bay. This is not really even a bay leaf, but in fact a member of the eucalyptis family. Those of you familiar with this family won't be surprised to learn that Californian bay tastes a lot of like menthol. For this very reason, you should be careful when a recipe calls for bay leaves, to add Mediterranean bay, and not Californian bay. This is very likely also the reason why the beans and saffronned rice in today's catered lunch tasted like a Mexican cough drop.

I don't suppose it would surprise you to learn that said catering company also forgot to bring serving utensils in which to transport any of the food from the chafing dishes to our plates. Then again, perhaps the beans and rice dish was just for presentation. It certainly wasn't suitable for eating.

1 comment:

  1. They must have read the recipe backwards. They were supposed to throw out the beans and rice, and eat the bay leaf. D'oh!


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