Mint is a taste we all know. Refreshing and stimulating, fresh and crisp. However when we think of mint and its dark green fuzzy leaves, what we’re actually thinking of is most likely spearmint.
A favourite ice cream flavour, a classic sauce to accompany lamb, a dessert garnish, and so much more, mint is a truly distinct herb. Its uses are not even restrained to the culinary; for a long time it has been used as a herbal remedy.
Mint is named after an Ancient Greek mythical water nymph called Minthe. Minthe was associated with the Cocytus, one of the five rivers in the underworld in Greek mythology (along with the more well-known river Styx).
As myth has it, Minthe had nearly seduced Hades, the god of the underworld, when he stole Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, bringing her down into the underworld against her will. Persephone became the wife of Hades, and she clearly didn’t like having Minthe as a rival – she stomped Minthe, magically turning her into a mint plant so she would always be trodden on! Hades took pity on Minthe and although the spell couldn’t be reversed, he added a beautiful smell to the plant. This is the legend behind mint’s magnificent aroma!
Mint leaves contain menthol and a compound called pulegone, both of which are responsible for its characteristic scent and its unusual cooling effect. These compounds are used in toothpastes and medicines because of their natural antibacterial properties and their cooling sensation.
Traditionally taken as an herbal remedy for chest and stomach pain, even today it is a go-to homeopathic medicine for conditions from heartburn to bad breath, skin irritations to congestion. So when you try our delicious Summery Apricot Pork with Couscous, keep a few sprigs of mint to eat at the end of your meal to both freshen your breath and aid digestion!