an you imagine pizza without a pinch of oregano? Or a rich pasta sauce, or a hearty winter stew? Oregano has been part of Europe’s culinary and medicinal history since ancient times. My favorite example has to be its inclusion in Apicius, a famed cookbook of Imperial Rome, where oregano is listed as an ingredient to enhance the flavour and digestive qualities of barley broth (Bown, 2001).
Its early popularity appears to have been widely endorsed by monks who cultivated the herb in monastic gardens, whilst regular folk scattered it on earthen floors of their homes. There are records of the herb being added to 16th century nosegays, worn to ward off the bubonic plagues which raged across Europe. Jump a few centuries and doctors were still prescribing this humble herb as a general health tonic in the 1800s (Hildebrand). Oregano is still used in herbal medicine and aromatherapy today, however it provides us with an excellent example of why you should always check the botanical names on your essential oil bottles, as this little herb is the source of much naming confusion….