If you've ever made a classic Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, complete with a turkey and stuffing, then you've probably used Bell's Seasoning. The spice mix in the little red and yellow cardboard box has been a part of American holiday cooking ever since William G. Bell of Newton, Massachusetts, invented it in 1867. Bell's can be used to season any kind of poultry, stuffings and even things like herbed rolls and pumpkin cookies. Bell's Seasoning is a blend of five spices: rosemary, oregano, sage, ginger and marjoram. Although many sources include pepper in the list of Bell's spices, Bell's official site does not.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is an aromatic herb, native to the Mediterranean. It is an evergreen that grows in mild climates. It can be recognized by its distinctive silvery, spiky leaves. It has a strongly aromatic flavor that is often used with roast meats and stews. It is also sometimes used to flavor potatoes and vegetables.
You will eat oregano in almost any Italian pasta dish, and it is almost always found on pizzas. Oregano (Origanum vulgare), like rosemary, grows in the Mediterranean, in the hills. It belongs to the mint family, and is also related to marjoram; it is often called "wild marjoram. Oregano is strongly associated with Italian cuisine, and blends well with tomatoes and cheese. Often you will find oregano flavoring soups and egg dishes, too.
If you've ever made a basic turkey stuffing, you've probably used sage and onion as the main flavorings. Sage (Salvia officinalis) is, like rosemary and oregano, a Mediterranean herb, which was originally used as a medicinal; "salvia" literally means salvation. It is also burned as a disinfectant and as a purifying incense. For cooking, it is used in dishes containing pork, chicken or cheese. It also flavors herbed breads and stuffings.
Usually found in curries and sweet spiced desserts, ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a root found in southeastern Asia and in other tropical areas, such as the West Indies. In its powdered form, ginger is a warm sweet spice that is not only used in cakes and cookies, but also sometimes in roast meat dishes, their gravies and in soups.
Marjoram (Origanum majorana) is less robust in flavor than its near relation, oregano, but has sweet, aromatic leaves and oil. It is grown in many places, including North and South America, all over Europe and in Great Britain. Its oil has been used since the Middle Ages as a medicinal and an antiseptic. It is an all-purpose spice in the kitchen, used in everything from vegetable dishes and salads to meats, seafood and eggs.
- bellsseasonings.com: Bell's Seasoning
- "The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink"; Andrew F. Smith; 2007
- gourmetsleuth.com: Poultry Seasoning
- bellsseasonings.com: Bell's Recipes
- "The SPice Cookbook"; Avanelle Day and Lillie Stuckey; 1964
- "The Complete Book of Herbs and Spices"; Sarah Garland; 2004
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