By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
I recently got the chance to sample one of the hummus blends that Mark Bocian sells through his business Freddy’s Rockin’ Hummus. This one blended the traditional smooth, nutty chickpea base with a sweet hint of cranberry and a dense herbal flavor. I asked Bocian what herbs he used. With a grin, he responded: “Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.” The name of the hummus appropriately was Scarborough Fair.
Since then, “parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme” has been on my mind. I have wondered how music and this medley of herbs might offer a salve for the current state of national politics.
Searches of the Internet revealed connections between the town of Scarborough in England, medieval fairs which served as precursors to farmers’ markets, and the culinary and curative properties of the four herbs. On the surface, Simon & Garfunkel’s use of the herbs in the refrain to their 1966 song “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” appears to hold little meaning. The herb names, when sung together, form a pleasant cadence, and the references to Scarborough Fair can be said to connote the medieval fairs, of which Scarborough was one.
But what about the herbs?
According to Raw Food World (rawfoodworld.com), parsley contains oil components that can inhibit tumor formation as well as flavonoids that function as anti-oxidants. Sage is said to enhance memory, which is perhaps appropriate given the equating of the word “sage” with wisdom. Rosemary can serve as an immune booster and an anti-inflammatory. And thyme is not only packed with vitamins but is seen as an effective treatment for coughs.
For about five years, I have maintained a small perennial herb garden. It is full of sage and thyme (along with oregano, tarragon, and lavender), and each year I have planted rosemary and parsley in the same space with a rather ungrounded-in-reality desire to see these annuals come back to life. So far, little luck, and I end up replacing the winter withered plants with fresh ones in spring. Still, the garden and its herbs offers a reminder that even as the times might be changing the day has not yet come that the music has died.
Try using parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme with roasted chicken, in stuffings, or quick breads. Or try this simple side salad with bacon and eggs by Molly O’Neill of the New York Times: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/11601-parsley-sage-rosemary-and-thyme-salad-with-scrambled-eggs