The Bay tree which provides the culinary leaf is Laurus nobilis. Also known as the laurel, the leaves have traditionally been used in a wreath to crown those of great achievement. It is from this tradition that the SCA takes the idea of the Order of the Laurel from.
Bay leaves nicely flavour soups and particularly stews. Their nice glossy green colour when fresh makes them a nice garnish. They work well dried, and even better when fresh. Bay leaves are easily dried - just tie a twig of leaves to a hook in your kitchen roof- and last a long time dried.
Did you know:
- Bay trees can be easily shaped as young plants into topiaries, and can be happily kept in pots for many years as such.
- Bay leaves consumed in sufficient (i.e. LARGE) quantities can have psychoactive effects. Do some reading into Greek prophetesses living in houses thatched with bay leaves and chewing bay leaves all day - they had visions.
The oil obtained from the berries of the bay tree was also used for a variety of uses, including perfume.