[Sca-cooks] Herbs

lilinah at earthlink.net lilinah at earthlink.net
Sun Jan 13 18:03:52 PST 2013

I wrote:
> > RUE
> > 
> > I think the level of fear of rue in the SCA is excessive.
> > 
> > Back in the 1970s I had an acquaintance who used tincture of rue as an 
> > abortifacient - she was drinking quite a bit - and that would have been at a 
> > much higher concentration than fresh leaves used in a feast - and it didn't 
> > work.
> > 
> > I'm not saying send rue out helter skelter, willy nilly. There may be some woman 
> > who is very sensitive to it. But i think serving it with a warning ought to be 
> > sufficient.
> > I'd be more concerned, as a cook, about the possibility of contact dermatitis 
> > from handling the fresh leaves - a lot of people are sensitive - although once 
> > cooked it does not cause that reaction

Galefridus replied:
> I think that what makes rue problematic is that some folks react to it in manner 
> similar to poison ivy. The abortifacient properties may be based more on humoural 
> theory than reality.

That's contact dermatitis. If the rue is cooked briefly it's not a problem.

> > 
> > As for spikenard, which is botanically nardostachys jatamansi, and which i have 
> > read is endangered, i understand one substitute is valeriana jatamansi. This is 
> > a different plant from the sometimes soporific valerian, which is valeriana 
> > officinalis, and so will not have the smell of dirty sweat socks i sometimes 
> > perceive with the officinalis variety.

> I have obtained Nardostachys jatamansi from a couple of sources. There has been a 
> merchant at Pennsic selling the stuff whole dried for the past two years, and 
> there's an herbal supplier that sells 1 lb. packets of the powder for about $25

Well, there was a merchant at Pennsic for a couple years (including last year) selling Ashanti pepper, aka False Cubeb, as Cubeb. The two look similar but do NOT taste the same. This merchant did not know the difference. I mentioned it, and sent them plenty of supporting evidence. They did eventually change the label.

So any herb/spice merchant may *think* they're selling one thing, when they're actually selling another, because it's what THEIR vendor told them it was.

I hope i hear back from Lhasa Karnak tomorrow about what they're selling as Spikenard.


> The only herb that I have found with a slightly soapy taste is cilantro.

And that's often genetic.

I guess i'm lucky because either it doesn't seem soapy to me, or i like the taste of soap (i've made soap from scratch - although i did purchase the lye and not make it myself - that's hard to do in an urban apartment)


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