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Bay Leaves

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Also called laurel leaf or bay laurel, this aromatic herb comes from the evergreen bay laurel tree, native to the Mediterranean. Early Greeks and Romans attributed magical properties to the laurel leaf and it has long been a symbol of honor, celebration and triumph, as in "winning your laurels."

The two main varieties of bay leaves are Turkish (which has 1- to 2-inch-long oval leaves) and Californian (with narrow, 2- to 3-inch-long leaves). The Turkish bay leaves have a more subtle flavour than do the California variety. Bay leaves are used to flavour soups, stews, vegetables and meats. They're generally removed before serving. Overuse of this herb can make a dish bitter.

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