“If one consults enough herbals...every sickness known to humanity will be listed as being cured by sage.” Varro Taylor, Ph.D.
I've gone a little Sage obsessed this Fall. Sage is one of those herbs that with just one little whiff sends my memories flooding back to Thanksgivings past. If you're like me, you're already knee deep in Thanksgiving prep. This year, my dishes are full of Sage. From new uses in modern mashed potatoes to the soup to the traditional turkey there's a little dash of this magical herb to be found in every corner of my Thanksgiving meal plan.
Sage has a wonderfully earthy and slightly peppery flavour. It seems to dance inside your mouth, swaying back and forth with sharp bursts of woody flavour. It's two-step might surprise you though with its delicate hint of sweetness waltzing against your taste buds.
Salvia officinalis, as it is formally known as, has been used since ancient times for warding off evil, snakebites, increasing women's fertility, and more. The Romans were quiet fond of sage, it was commonly used as a diuretic, a local anesthetic for the skin, a styptic, and for other uses. Charlemagne recommended the plant for cultivation in the early Middle Ages, and during the Carolingian Empire, it was cultivated in monastery gardens. Walafrid Strabo described it in his poem Hortulus as having a sweet scent and being useful for many human ailments.
The plant had a high reputation throughout the Middle Ages, with many sayings referring to its healing properties and value. It was sometimes called S. salvatrix (sage the savior), and was one of the ingredients of Four Thieves Vinegar, a blend of herbs which was supposed to ward off the plague.
In Britain sage has for generations been listed as one of the essential herbs, along with parsley, rosemary and thyme (as in the folk song "Scarborough Fair").
In British, Canadian and American cooking, it is traditionally served as sage and onion stuffing, an accompaniment to roast turkey or chicken at Christmas or Thanksgiving Day.
But Sage has become more than just a Thanksgiving specialty these days appearing more and more in modern dishes, from honey sage ice cream to pan fried chicken and apples. But for me, right now, it's simply 'Thanksgiving'. All wrapped up between it's soft, velvety leaves.