Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme … and Lavender

First, a pinch of etymology. The Greeks called lavender nardus after the Syrian city of Naardus, from which comes the word “spikenard.” (More on spikenard in a second.) As for our word, “lavender,” we must once again thank the Latin language for lavare, meaning, “to wash.” A member of the mint family, and cousin to…

Medieval England: Medicine as Food, Food as Medicine

Let food be thy medicine, and let thy medicine be food. ~Hippocrates Food and medicine, always intertwined in the human  imagination. Because – obviously – the earliest English settlers brought their food habits and medicinal beliefs with them to what is now the United States, I relish books that provide background to the English way…

Reflections on a Green-Grape Tart

Sugary milky sweetness, that first delicious taste, imprints itself on a baby’s tiny tongue, and seals forever a great love. From the very beginning of life, then, a yearning for that nectar haunts us forever and never leaves us in peace. This primal urge for sweetness led to the scourge of slavery and fuels the…

Peregrinations and Pilgrimages: Medieval Benedictine Hospitality

If your idea of hospitality is having good friends over for stimulating talk and take-out pizza and beer (good beer, mind you), you may just be a Benedictine at heart. That is, Benedictine as in monk, not liqueur. In the Benedictine charism, true hospitality is a “holy event”, not just a social happening where only…