Marjoram and oregano are very similar herbs, but there is a subtle difference. Marjoram packs less of a culinary punch than oregano, as it has a milder flavour. Now marjoram is called Origanum maiorana, and has undergone a name change, which is confusing. However, its taste hasn’t changed, so it really doesn’t matter. It’s still a substitute for oregano and vice versa. It is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean area. All marjorams are oregano, but not all oreganos are marjoram-so now you know! They are all members of the mint family of herbs.

The Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite is reputed to have favoured both oregano and marjoram, and because of this it was believed that if a girl anointed herself with marjoram she would dream of her future husband. The ancients also believed that if wild marjoram grew on a grave the spirit of the departed was happy. Marjoram was also planted on some graves to ensure the happiness of the soul of the departed.

In ancient Greece and Rome, bridal couples wore wreaths of marjoram on their heads as crowns, and these symbolized love, honour and happiness. It was believed that when marjoram was added to food it would nurture love. In the Middle Ages it was used as a strewing herb to mask unpleasant smells.

In Germany marjoram was hung over doors to protect the members of the household form witches spells. In Britain it was thought that if sprigs of marjoram and wild thyme were laid together by milk in a dairy, they would prevent the milk turning sour, or curdling during a thunderstorm.

Marjoram has traditionally been used in medicine to relieve pains; those in the joints, from arthritis, sprains, bruises and muscles. To relieve pains like this you should grind marjoram leaves into a paste with hot water and a little oatmeal (which helps with consistency only) or rub oil of marjoram on the affected areas.

Modern research has shown that marjoram is a minor antioxidant and has some antifungal properties. Gargles made from the leaves can help a sore throat and ease sinus congestion and hay fever.

It is good in a herb butter with dill and thyme.

1 French stick
50 gr butter, softened
3 cloves garlic, crushed or very finely chopped
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tbsp fresh dill leaves, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme or 1tsp dried thyme
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cut the French stick into slices, but do not cut all the way through, so each slice is still attached to the stick.

Mix all the other ingredients together, and spread the herb and garlic butter on each slice of bread.

Cover with aluminium foil and cook in a medium oven for 20 mins.

After 15 mins, undo the aluminium foil at the top of the bread to allow the bread to crisp a little. Cook for 5 mins and serve.

This has Taste and is a Treat.

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