Posted by: tomciocco | April 11, 2010


The quality of fresh herbs naturally varies according to season, source, handling, among other factors. I’ve come across bunches of parsley that taste of little more than crabgrass, right up to ones that you can smell coming out of your shopping bag. Marjoram is another one – sometimes it’s just lightly aromatic after rubbing it between your palms, and then it almost completely disappears in the intended dish after 5 minutes of cooking. But then I’ve come across marjoram clippings that are so sweetly pungent and PERSISTENT that they’ve marred a dish…Same with rosemary – some good stalks, some bad. Likewise with bay leaves, etc., etc….But the quality of the sage, at least here in the U.S., or perhaps due to my own uncanny bad luck, never fails to disappoint, despite shopping thither and yon. I’ve gotten flaccid bunches of sage at STANDA in Florence that feel noticeably resinous between thumb and forefinger, and smell good enough to rub directly on your face and chest.

So what’s the deal?  Do I just suck at sage shopping or is there some “scientific” or other reason that sage tends to arrive at market in a compromised state? Is Italian supermarket herbage so superior, and if so, why? Maybe first I should just ask if anyone else has had this experience? Yes? No?




  1. grow your own culinary sage! it’s easy, cold hardy, and I’m quite sure in NJ will do fine all year long.

    • Too true, Nana…and sage is a perennial too…gotta look into its feasibility in a pot – I don’t really have much viable real estate to work with….Thanks


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