Herbs introduced by the ancient Romans

Basil Roman

Marjoram, Thyme and Basil were very much treasured in the Roman Kitchen, offering many culinary and medicinal virtues. These herbs are still very much used today, a staple to any herb garden.

Marjoram grows low to medium growth and has pretty purple flowers, which Butterflies love! It comes from the same family as oregano and offers valuable culinary flavourings. The Romans believed that the herb brought good health and longevity and was popular for flavouring soups, stews and meat dishes. Marjoram was valued highly in folklore for have having mythical properties. Ancient Greeks planted marjoram on graves as they believed it would ensure eternal peace and happiness for the dead.

Thyme had many uses, was and still is highly treasured in modern italian and british cooking. Roman soldiers bathed in thyme-scented water to increase their valour and stay-at-home Romans used thyme as a flavouring for cheese. Medicinally, the herb was brewed as a tea to help cure nasty coughs and aid digestion.

Basil is beautifully aromatic and very easy to grow. The early Romans believed that is caused insanity, some associate it with love, sprigs of basil were exchanged by lovers as a symbol of faithfulness. Later, the Italians associated it with love and called it ‘Kiss me, Nicholas’. In modern day Italian cooking, Basil is used to garnish pasta, salads and is best known as the base for pesto, a delicious sauce for pasta, made up of basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan and olive oil. Basil is also useful in the kitchen to discourage flies.

Recipes and inspiration