Oregano varieties range from bitter to sweet


March 29, 1995|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Special to The Sun

Q: When buying fresh oregano I often find the leaves vary in size as if there are different strains of the herb.

Also some of the fresh oregano has a flavor that's almost bitter. How do I know what to look for to get sweet, fresh oregano?

A: There are actually seven common varieties of fresh oregano that have different appearances and varying flavor characteristics. Cretan oregano has a spicy and somewhat bitter flavor with gray-green woolly foliage. You seem to have found that this variety isn't your favorite.

You may prefer the Sicilian oregano which has a strong scent with a wild flavor with very green rounded leaves. Or you might want to try wild marjoram, which is a variety of oregano. The flavor is sweet, floral and somewhat soapy and the herb has tiny green pointed leaves.

Q: What is a navarin?

A: A navarin is a French name for a stew made of mutton and vegetables, often of the root variety. This term is turning up more frequently on American restaurant menus these days because of the growing popularity of French-style cafes in this country.

Tip: When selecting a pineapple, choose one with leaves that give easily when tugged. The fruit should also have a fruity, sweet fragrance and the skin should be more of a brownish yellow than a very firm green.

Send your questions to: What's Cooking, c/o Food & Home, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278. Although personal replies are not possible, questions of general interest will be answered in this column.

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