Thursday, July 2, 2009

French to English Lexicon: Herbs and Spices, Part 3

Before we continue with our third and final set of spices, I want to ask you, have you heard of epazote?  If you've spent time in Mexico, you've probably eaten this spice without knowing it was in your dish.

240px-Epazote The first time I learned about it was when I was reading on spices at the library recently.  I came across Sandra Bowen's article about epazote on the web site called "a pinch of".  This is the link:

If you think epazote is a funny name, Ms. Bowen asks if you'd rather call it by its other names:  skunkweed, pig short, wormseed or goosefoot.  Let's stick to epazote, shall we? 

How do you pronounce it?  She says, "say eh-pa-zo-tay".  It sounds more French than Mexican to me!

Epazote has a lemony flavor and is used by Mexicans when they make fish, beans and corn dishes.  They use it liberally when they make tortillas/quesadillas and it complements the taste of other spices like Mexican cumin, oregano and chilis.  If you go to Ms. Bowen's web site, she has a couple of recipes there that you can try.  One of them can be made a day ahead for maximum flavor.

Let's get those French and English spices for you:



hysope hyssop
laurier bay leaf
bourrache officinale borage
cerfeuil chervil
ciboulette chive
épazote epazote
mélissa-citronnelle lemon balm
citronnelle lemon grass
amandier à amandes amères bitter almonds
graine de céleri celery seed

I love Thai soups with lemon grass and coconut milk, by the way.  Think I'll have Mexican beans with epazote this Saturday, and then lemon grass soup on Sunday.  I already have a can of coconut milk (lait de coco in French) on standby!

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