[Sca-cooks] herbs

JIMCHEVAL at aol.com JIMCHEVAL at aol.com
Fri Jan 11 10:18:31 PST 2013

Since I'm going to guess neither of us is a connoisseur of soap, there's  
wide room for disagreement here. But the more precise (if difficult to find)  
version of spikenard is often used in perfume, so the general odor is more  
associated today with cosmetics than edibles:

"Spikenard (Nardostachys  jatamansi); also called nard, nardin, and 
muskroot is a flowering plant of the  Valerian family that grows in the Himalayas 
of Nepal, China, and India. The  plant grows to about 1 m in height and has 
pink, bell-shaped flowers. It is  found in the altitude of about 3000–5000 
meters. Spikenard rhizomes (underground  stems) can be crushed and distilled 
into an intensely aromatic amber-colored  essential oil, which is very thick 
in consistency. Nard oil is used as a  perfume, an incense, a sedative, and 
an herbal medicine said to fight insomnia,  birth difficulties, and other 
minor ailments.[1]"

It's  been a while since I've done this research, but as I recall in Gaul 
Gallic nard  (hence, valerian) was more used than the real article.

Otherwise, it's worth noting that some gloss "espic" (probably spikenard)  
as lavender as well.
It doesn't help that nard was often paired with costus, which (via its  
Chinese equivalent) I find to taste like dirt (think ginseng). Yet both were  
once immensely prized.
I agree that cilantro is soapish as well; less so ginger, which I love.  
Cilantro is a curious herb/spice, not only because it's equally central to 
both  Mexican and Thai cuisine, but because its leaves have a very different 
flavor  from its seeds (coriander). For our period, it can also be 
treacherous, since  when Anthimus, for instance, refers to it you have to consider 
whether he means  the leaf or the seed (which to us would be two distinct 

Jim Chevallier

Newly translated from Pierre  Jean-Baptiste Le Grand d'Aussy:
Catholic Fasting in France: From the Franks  to the Eighteenth Century 

In a message dated 1/11/2013 2:19:48 A.M.  Pacific Standard Time, 
otsisto at socket.net writes:
Really, my experience with  Valerian is that it tastes like the smell of
dirty socks. Cilantro and ginger  tastes closer to soap to me. 

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