Mentha. Mint. The herb of hospitality. It has a taste of its own, and everyone knows it. Most of the time, when we talk about food, we describe it in flavors such as spicy, sweet, or sweet and spicy, or nutty. The flavor of the mint is so famous it has its very own adjective, minty.
Of course, we can describe the minty flavor with a bit more detail. The “Mentha” Wikipedia page has a great description: “The leaves have a warm, fresh, aromatic, sweet flavor with a cool aftertaste.”
Mint is used to flavor all kinds of dishes and drinks from ice cream to lamb roast to mojito. Mint even has its own candies. I’m not sure which is more glorious, York Peppermint Patties or the Andes Creme De Menthe Thins. Which one does God serve at the end of his heavenly feasts?
Mint sometimes gets a bad wrap because people associate its flavor with non-edible substances like toothpaste or mouthwash, or undesirable edible substances like Pepto-Bismol. And, though these substances have medicinal value, the actual mint plant is not the medicine. However, the mint plant was traditionally used to treat stomach issues, and modern-medicine is beginning to find evidence that mint may be useful in treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Before mint was used as a medicine, at least in European history, the mint plant was scattered around on dirt floors so that when people entered the room, they stepped on it, releasing its delightful scent.
But who cares about the history of mint? The important part is that it is delicious!
Yes, mint is delicious, but with its great power comes great… well, let’s just say, it’s easy to mess up an entire dish with a couple leaves. As much as mint can enhance a dish like chocolate ice cream, fruit salad, or even salmon, it can also ruin a food like butternut squash porridge (I learned that one the hard way). Great care must be taken when cooking with such a distinct flavor.
Anyway, I made a quick video about identifying mint plants. Here it is!