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July 06, 1990 - Image 52

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-07-06

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Fresh Israel: Herbs
Spice Up Summer Meals


Special to The Jewish News


t's more than likely that

the neat packages of fresh
herbs and unfamiliar
greens now available in your
market, are not grown local-
ly but are flown in — direct
from Israel.
These leafy, pungent
"flavor busters" are Israel's
newest export. Eighteen dif-
ferent varieties of herbs and
greens come from moshays
such as Ein Hatzova near
Eilath as well as moshays
outside Tel Aviv. Picked at the
peak of perfection, they are
packed in plastic to retain
humidity and arrive in
American markets less than
36 hours later.
Why import from Israel
when America has so many
local herb sources? "Simple,"
explains Jack Lubinsky,
president of Agrexco, Ltd.,
Israeli food importers in New
York. "The local growers, for
one reason or another, do not
have a complete range. When
they see the high quality of
Israeli herbs, it makes sense
for them to buy and pack
under their own label. The
consumer is unaware of the
origin of the herb and even in
winter, prices are com-
Herbs and greens have
grown in wild profusion since
the beginning of time. But
Israel is now offering the op-
portunity to sample the
Rocket leaves, traditional-
ly known for aphrodisiac
qualities and medicinal
benefits, will spice up a salad
or make a soothing tea. We
know it under the name of
arugula. The treasured
Oriental variety of basil was
brought to Israel in the
pockets of Yemenite Jews who
were part of the airlift opera-
tion, Magic Carpet, during
the early days of Israel"s
statehood. Sage grows wild in
the hills of Jerusalem, and
the fresh variety accentuates
the taste of summer
vegetables. Lovage, virtually
unknown to American cooks,
has a spicy, celery flavor
which goes well with soups
and sauces. Sorrel (schav)
with its lemony sharpness
has long been a basic soup in-
gredient in European Jewish
cooking. All of these, plus a
dozen or so others, arrive in
first-rate condition.
The "pros" have always
believed that fresh is not on-
ly best, it's the only way to go.
Many chefs will substituite

rather than use the dry-
colored crumbs which pass for
the real thing.
A few weeks ago, when I
bumped into friend and col-
league Cornelius O'Donnell,
spokesperson for Corning
Inc., he was fretting over the
fact that the tarragon planted
the night before might get
frostbitten. How about dried
herbs? "Not if I can help it,"
he scorned. "I like to be able
to add as I need it, and you
never know how much flavor
is left in the dried stuff." Cor-
nelius, a creative cook, was on
the road demonstrating the
new Classic Black Corn-
ingware which made its
fashionable debut last spring
and has the same versatility
as the Classic White. Two of
Cornelius' recipes, which de-
pend heavily on herbs for
"oomph," are included below.
Now's the time to cook with
something other than the
"safe" parsley. Roll a leaf or
sprig of an herb or green be-
tween your fingers to release
the oils. The aroma will guide
you to which foods will be
enhanced by the addition of
that particular herb. Most of
the time only a teaspoon or so
is needed. Greatest flavor in
the shortest time is given off
when chopped, but if dishes
are cooked for a long time,
such as stews and soups,
whole sprigs or leaves may be
Experiment with a few of
these unfamiliar fresh herbs
and you'll add an exciting
new dimension to summer

2 teaspoons each unsalted
butter and olive oil
4 large shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 or 2 seeded jalapenos,
stemmed and coarsely
1 cup short-grained
Carolina rice
2 cups fresh corn (from two
large ears)

Continued on Page 54

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