Herbs de Provence
Herbs de Provence, or Herbes de Provence, to use the correct French spelling, denotes a mixture of different
cooking herbs native to Provence, in the south of France. Which particular herbs you find in a herbs de
Provence mix can vary, but in theory they are all herbs you would find growing in the Mediterranean region
When we lived in Corsica we always had a garden, and I quickly learned how tough cultivating the
Mediterranean soil could be. There is a little bit of dirt on the island, but it is for the most part one
big rock. Despite these poor conditions, you can always count on certain things growing in the soil -
they are well adapted to these conditions. Among these plants are: rosemary, thyme, sage, and lavender.
I think my favorite plant was rosemary . You would be amazed to see what a tough plant this is. It can be
covered in snow in the winter, without water for weeks in the hot summer, trod upon by cows, and
generally ignored for months at end. Nothing seems to disturb its fragrant presence.
Lavender is so well adapted that it grows in wild abundance all over Corsica. Indeed the fragrant maquis
is home to many wild herbs and I often wished I knew which to pick and use at home. However, I cautiously
stuck with what I could grow myself. It is a real pleasure to walk out in your garden and clip off a few
stalks of some herb to flavor the evening meal.
When you use some of these herbs, you might like to recall how rugged and strong some of the plants are
that they come from.
List of Herbs de Provence
Here's a list of what you might find in a mixture of herbs de Provence along with
their French name.
- Thyme (Thym)
- Wild Thyme (Serpolet)
- Marjoram (Marjolaine)
- Oregano (Origan)
- Rosemary (Romarin)
- Basil (Basilic)
- Chervil (Cerfeuil)
- Savory (Sarriette)
- Lavender (Lavande)
- Fennel (Fenouil)
- Bay Leaf (Laurier)
Make Your Own Mix
Many herbs these days sold as Herbes de Provence aren't actually grown in Provence, and some people gripe
that packaged herb mixes lack in flavor. If you are able to grow some of these herbs yourself, you could
mix them together however you wished and call them Herbes de Provence. Package them yourself in a pretty
jar and you have a very nice gift to offer a friend.
Cookng With Herbs
You can use these herbs to flavor just about any savory dish. I always have a large jar on hand and
when in doubt, I add a teaspoon or two (or more) to whatever I'm cooking. It is perfect to sprinkle on
grilled foods and you don't need to limit its use to just French recipes either.
Return to Gourmet Cooking Supplies.