Wishing for a way to add a little “spice” to your life? While “herb” and “spice” often appear together, the difference between the two is easily defined. Herbs are the leaves of fresh or dried plants, while spices are the aromatic parts (the buds, fruits, berries, roots, or bark) of plants and/or trees.
Allspice (Pimenta dioica) — The name “allspice” describes its flavor, which resembles a combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. One of the Myrtles, this compact and handsome evergreen tree has aromatic, leathery leaves.
Bay Rum (P. racemosa) — A native of the West Indies and northern South America, this erect tree has a cylindrical crown and flaking bark. Bay rum, long popular as a hairdressing and after-shave lotion, is made by distilling the aromatic leaves of this tree in rum. Today, bay leaf oil is distilled by water or steam and used in perfume blends and men’s toiletries as well as a flavoring for soups, meats, and condiments.
Bay Leaf (Laurus nobilis) — The bay tree may have come originally from Asia Minor, but it has been in the Mediterranean region for so long that it is thought of as a native. In ancient Greece and Rome, poets were honored with crowns of laurel and were hailed as poets laureate, a term we still use today. In the kitchen, you will find the dried leaves go in and with almost everything, from savory meat and fish dishes to pasta sauces and even sweet dishes, such as custard.