Beans of every shape sort and colour were introduced to us last week. From re-fried beans to bean stew. During the demonstration we learnt about a herb I had not come across before- epazote.
I was fascinated about this new herb and as usual intent on finding out about it’s back ground and uses. Originally used by the Aztecs for medicinal purposes (the Aztec translation of “Epazote” is Skunk Sweat- VERY appetizing!), Epazote is common in both Caribbean and Mexican cooking. Tasting a little like tarragon, some say it smells to them like creosote. So between the skunk breath wording, and smelling like creosote, it’s a bit off putting. But there is a good reason it’s so often in Mexican cooking, especially with beans… it contains the essential oil – Carminative, which reduces gasiness, and makes beans digestion easier.
The other herb we talked about is Coriander. Both Rachel and Darina have spoken about how there is a divided in regard to a) the marmite effect of it, and b) that it is a very different tasting herb to different people. As it happens, the taste of coriander as soap is genetic. A little like rolling your tongue. Some taste lime like flavours, others soap. Two very different tastes, you’ll agree. With approx. 11% of the population having variations of this gene, OR6A2 (Mauer, L. K. Genetic Determinants of Cilantro Preference), there are just going to be some of us who don’t like it! Interestingly those who do “taste soap” may also be allergic to latex!
Even the great Julia Child disliked coriander: in 2002, she told the interviewer Larry King that she never ordered dishes with coriander: “I would pick it out if I saw it and throw it on the floor.” Well Julia, I wouldn’t throw it out- quite the opposite, I do like it, but I respect your honesty.