Herbs and spices, they have been with us for thousands of years. In fact, there were times in mankind's history when herbs and spices were used as money. The spice trade was so lucrative that it inspired numerous expeditions to the East--to find more of the "gold mine" that will build and sustain empires and more expeditions.
Herbs and spices were also found to possess medicinal properties--garlic to reduce fever, onion to keep colds at bay, cinnamon to reduce stress, camomile to relax and aloe vera to keep hair smooth and healthy. From our own backyard, we, Filipinos leaned the affectivity of lagundi against cough, guava leaves to treat wounds, kamias leaves to relieve the symptoms of measles, pansit-pansitan to reduce cholesterol levels and banaba or sambong for kidney stones.
Herbs and spices, today occupy a royal place in kitchen cupboards around the world. For instance, here in the Philippine, our lechon (pork or chicken) is much tastier now with a stuffing of tanglad (lemongrass), pandan (screwpine leaves) and young sampaloc (tamarind) leaves. There' no sinigang unless there's sampaloc or kamias as paasim. And how can you have pesto sauce without basil leaves?
Recently, Rustan's Supermarket paid tribute to these kitchen royals, thus allowing its legions of patrons to rediscover the goodness of herbs and spices. Rustan's shares, 'According to the 21st Century Cook, dried herbs are especially good in slow-cooked dishes and mostly added at the beginning of cooking, both to soften them and release their flavor. Fresh herbs with sturdy stems, such as thyme and rosemary, are added early on for flavor, later, to give color soft, leafy herbs such as coriander, chervil, basil and dill have more flavor when raw."
The five herbs every kitchen must have are bay leaf, oregano, sage, rosemary and thyme. And of course, when it comes to spices, you must-haves are pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise and cloves.