Now when I speak of mint, I speak of the popular mints such as peppermint, spearmint, pennyroyal. If I were to get into everything under the MINT family, the list would just go on and on. Just to give you an idea, the Lamiacae family includes basil, thyme, mint, rosemary, lavender, sage, savory, oregano, and the well-known teak trees. That is just a SMALL number of the Mint relatives.
|Mmmm...I'm in the mood for some ice cream now!|
|It's not hard to see that Hades and his wife Persephone have some issues at home.|
Mints are mostly perennial herbs, well-known for their low growth, spreading tendencies, and highly aromatic quality. Most mints prefer full sun to partial shade, though they are more susceptible to rust fungi in the shade. They have thin, serrated, pointed leaves that can dry out easily, so most mints prefer to have frequent watering, though they don't like to sit in water. Anyone who has had a mint in their garden can probably tell you that once a mint gets established, your other plants had better watch out, since mint can be pretty invasive.
Another story about mint shows how it became popular as the herb of hospitality: In Ovid's Metamorphoses, he tells the moral of Baucis and Philemon. It is said that Zeus and Hermes (Jupiter and Mercury, for those Romans out there) came down from Mt. Olympus disguised as regular peasants and visited a town, asking if anyone knew of a place that they could rest and have some food for the night. All of the people in the town closed their doors to the gods in disguise save for the old married couple, Baucis and Philemon. Upon inviting their guests in, Baucis and Philemon proceeded to crush mint and rub it all over their house to get rid of the earthy smell of their common home. Then, they fed their guests and allowed them to rest for the night. After their meal, Zeus and Hermes showed their true identities to Baucis and Philemon and warned them to leave the town as a flood was coming. Everyone from the town other than the old couple perished in the flood and all houses were washed away except the old couple's, which was turned into a temple. From then on, mint was seen as a great sign of hospitality.
|"Jupiter and Mercurius in the house of Philemon and Baucis" by Peter Paul Rubens|
In the kitchen, most people probably think of mint jellies and sauces to go with lamb or in candies, the most common place for mint use. But, there are many other uses for mint: Welsh cooks often add mint to their boiling water before preparing cabbage. Dried mint is sometimes used in split pea soup instead of salt. Mint is used in compliment to veal, lamb, eggplant, many different beans, and fruit. It is a popular herb in Greek, Indian, Middle Eastern, North African, and Arabic cuisine.
|A perfect flavor: lamb chops and mint sauce.|
|Refreshing and delicious while still warming!|
Another quick note before I end this post, since I could go on all day about mint (seriously, there are too many remedies and uses for mint! :D). Never should anyone EVER buy peppermint seeds! If you want PURE peppermint, you will not get it from seed. Peppermint is a sterile hybrid between Spearmint and water mint, so you will never get seeds from it.
And so as my post comes to an end, I say bring mint into your life! Give it to a neighbor as a housewarming gift, make yourself some tea (for those where it is getting colder), make yourself some mint water (for those where its is still warm out), or just have some nice mint chocolate chip ice cream and think back to how much history is behind that simple minty leaf!