Italians most commonly use sage to flavour meat and poultry dishes; especially veal, which is often thought as bland.
Sage leaves fried in butter until the butter turns brown make an
easy and interesting, but not exactly light, sauce to be eaten with
Sage is a very powerful spice and tends to dominate; its slightly
bitter taste is not appreciated by some people. It is sometimes combined
with garlic and pepper (preferably green pepper) for barbecued or fried
meat. Because of its strong taste, combination of sage with more
subtle-flavoured, delicate herbs does not make much sense.
It ranks as one of the finest herbs of French cuisine. The general
rule of using herbs in cooking is - when in doubt use thyme.It has a
strong piquant or lemony flavor. For fresh use, the flavor is best just
The Persians once nibbled fresh thyme as an appetizer. Some ancients
Greeks thought thyme gave one courage. Thyme was grown in monastery
gardens in southern France and in Spain and Italy during the Middle Ages
for use as a cough remedy, digestive aid and treatment for intestinal
Thymol, thyme's most active ingredient, is used in such
over-the-counter products as Listerine mouthwash and Vicks VapoRub
because of its well-known antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Thymol apparently also has a therapeutic effect on the lungs. Ingesting
or inhaling the oil helps to loosen phlegm and relax the muscles in the
In Germany, concoctions of thyme are frequently prescribed for
coughs, including those resulting from whooping cough, bronchitis and
emphysema. In the United States, thyme extract was included in a popular
cough syrup, Pertussin, that is no longer on the market. Thyme is used
in herbal teas prepared for colds and flus. In addition, thyme has
antifungal properties and can be used against athlete's foot.
To make a tea, use two teaspoons of dried herb per cup of boiling
water and steep for ten minutes. Add sage to the tea if you have a
nagging cough. The Food and Drug Administration includes thyme on its
list of herbs generally regarded as safe, but large doses may cause
intestinal problems. If you experience diarrhea or bloating, cut back on
the amount you're using or discontinue use altogether.
A stronger tea is useful as a mouthwash or rinse to treat sore gums.