The evening before we left Beaune in late May, we had dinner at my friend Rachel’s house in nearby Bouilland. At the end of the meal, Rachel casually stepped outside her kitchen door, mid-sentence, and snipped a few herbs, mostly lemon verbena. As opposed to herb “teas” which contain caffeine, the French are very fond of simple herb infusions, called a tisane: just hot water and fresh herbs. The effect is to calm the stomach and aid digestion. Here is Rachel’s delightful and soothing herb brew~
In the U.S. we tend to think of herbs for seasoning, but in many parts of the world, including France, they are incorporated into the diet for medicinal effects. Lemon verbena aids digestion, which is why it’s the most-used for tisane and even ice cream. Bay leaf also aids digestion, which is why you see it included in most stews and sauces, including most every tomato sauce. Rosemary, in addition to its fragrance, is effective for circulation, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. That’s a short list; there are many other benefits ascribed to Rosemary~
Certain herbs in conjunction with naturally anti-bacterial linen compresses were used in ancient times to treat wounds. Among the florals, rose was a common 18th C remedy to combat migraines, upset stomach and cholera.
To this day, in France, aromatherapy and homeopathic remedies are widely used and accepted. You will find herbal remedies in pharmacies as well as the farmers markets, here at the Louhans market for nose-sinus-throat congestion~
Linden tree for “general drainage” and good health~
Another remedy for bloating…”flat stomach”…I might add, this is an obsession in France~
Lavender is always on offer, to ease you off to sleep…lavender is always great!
Chamomile for sleep also~
This vendor was wonderful and seemed to have a remedy for everything; she was a personality and doing a brisk business I might add~
Some of the signs are self-evident~
I ended up buying a sachet of the respiratory herbs & flowers, and made a tisane and then an ice cream out of the infusion.
If you are in any French grocery store, you can also find a dried/crystallized tisane mix in the tea section in a small green cylinder. We had this almost nightly in Paris, after dinner. Paris buys this brand if they don’t have fresh herbs, so this one is a great substitute. Put it on your “to buy” list when you or your friends are next in France~!
This is the start of my summer herb series. More soon~