I’m in southern France this week, at the end of a biscuit-dry summer.
It’s interesting that the herbs which thrive in these conditions are often richly aromatic: thyme, sage, rosemary, garlic, basil, oregano, marjoram, bay…They are also, of course, herbs that have always been valued in Mediterranean cuisine, from the times when local food was the only kind of food you could have.
But they don’t just add savour to our food. They make it more digestible, and they deter the growth of bacteria and moulds.
And when you use them medicinally, their warming and drying qualities make them particularly useful in the relatively damp, cold climate of Britain. We can’t take the sunshine home with us, but importing these southern herbs is the next best thing.
They help to ward off colds and flu, and respiratory problems in general. Taken regularly or rubbed into afflicted joints, they can ease rheumatic symptoms and make the pain more manageable. And, of course, each individual herb has its own special qualities.