Ancient Greeks and Romans prized sage for its medicinal qualities and it was only in the Middle Ages that people started to use it as an ingredient in food preparations. The name reflects sage's fame as a plant with curative properties: salvia, in fact, derives from the Latin adjective salvus, meaning safe, healthy.
Salvia has a distinct flavor, which makes it a beloved herb in the kitchen. It is also a pretty plant, with velvety leaves that sparkle in the sun and delicately-colored flowers. Nowadays there are many cultivars of sage, some of them selected for ornamental use.
I am reminded of salvia every time I use the word salve, a common greeting in Italian, which literally means 'be healthy.' In the medieval poem Regimen sanitatis Salernitanum, the Salernitan Rule of Health, a work from the medical school of Salerno, a verse asks: 'why should a man die who has sage in his garden?' Hence, to be on the safe side, I planted some Golden sage (Salvia officinalis icterina), a pretty and flavorful cultivar.
This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, a food blogging event started by Kalyn's Kitchen, hosted this week by Küchenlatein, whom I would like to thank for offering me a nice way of brushing up my German. Here is the roundup of WHB #86.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the salvia audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]