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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Herbs, Herbs, Herbs

While I lived in Seattle I had ready access to many, many types of herbs. At the local grocery store you could find many of the basics such as flat leafed and curly leafed parsley, mint, sage, English thyme, tarragon, rosemary, basil and more all at about $1.99+ a package. If I wanted more ethic herbs, Chinatown was the place to go for Thai basil, Vietnamese coriander/cilantro, lemongrass, lime leaves, galangal and fresh wasabi. As soon as I moved out of my college apartment and into a house I began to plant herbs at a somewhat alarming rate. Within a year I had a thriving herb garden with no less than 20 types of culinary herbs. Fresh is best.

Here in Italy, some herbs such as rosemary, sage and bay leaves are freely available at local butcher shops. When you line up for your meat, you can help yourself to a sprig or two free of charge. (I find this to be a very nice perk.) Many, many types of spices and herbs are commonly available from vanilla beans and capers to pink peppercorns and marjoram; most of them at ¼ to ½ the price of herbs in the U.S. A bunch of fresh basil will run you about .50 Euros, what a great deal!

Two herbs common in the U.S. but have eluded me here are tarragon and dill. So this spring I have decide to try to plant some fresh herbs in window boxes on the balcony. The English thyme and lemon thyme, chives, mint and oregano are still doing fine from last year. This year I’ve added dill, cilantro, Thai basil, Mexican coriander/saw tooth herb, and a few others. Tarragon I could not mail order from Richters readily since it is best propagated from cuttings rather than seeds. I can’t tell you how I am craving cured gravlax and for this I need a lot of dill.

My precious little dill seedlings.

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At 12:22 AM, Anonymous alan said...

I agree. Nothing spruces up a plain dish more quickly and easily than the generous addition of fresh herbs. As a bonus, herbs seem to be among the easiest plants to grow, so even brown thumbs like myself can have success!

At 2:53 PM, Anonymous paz said...

Your growing dill looks terrific! Good luck with your herb garden!


At 11:20 AM, Blogger Stelle In Italia said...

great idea with the dill! i need some too--it's one of those things I miss a lot! I should bring some seeds back...



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