Wednesday, July 14, 2010
The Lionhearted Tale of Borage!
Dorothy: Your majesty? If you were a King you wouldn’t be afraid of anything?
Lion: Not nobody; not no how!
Tin Man: Not even a rhinoceros?
Dorothy: How about a hippopotamus?
Lion: I’d thrash him from top to bottamus!
Dorothy: Supposin’ you meet an elephant?
Lion: I’d wrap him up in celephant!
Scarecrow: What if it were a brontosaurus?
Lion: I’d show him who’s King of the Forest!
Borage Botanical name: Borago officinalis (LINN.) Family: N.O. Boraginaceae, Star-flower, beebread, bugloss, burage, common bugloss, Herb of Gladness --
In the early part of the nineteenth century, the young tops of Borage were still sometimes boiled as a pot-herb, and the young leaves were formerly considered good in salads. The fresh herb has a cucumber-like fragrance. When steeped in water, it imparts a coolness to it and a faint cucumber flavor, and compounded with lemon and sugar in wine, and water, it makes a refreshing and restorative summer drink. It was formerly always an ingredient in cool tankards of wine and cider, and is still largely used in claret cup.
Our great grandmothers preserved the flowers and candied them. In all the countries bordering the Mediterranean, where it is plentiful, it is spelt with a double 'r,' so the word may be derived from the Italian borra, French bourra, signifying hair or wool, words which in their turn are derived from the Low Latin burra, a flock of wool, in reference to the thick covering of short hairs which clothes the whole plant.
Henslow suggests that the name is derived from barrach, a Celtic word meaning 'a man of courage.'
Roman soldiers braced for contest by reciting Ego Borago gaudia semper ago, which early herbalist John Gerard interpreted to mean “I Borage bring alwaies/always courage.”
'Pliny calls it Euphrosinum, because it maketh a man merry and joyful: which thing also the old verse concerning Borage doth testifie: Those of our time do use the flowers in salads to exhilarate and make the mind glad. There be also many things made of these used everywhere for the comfort of the heart, for the driving away of sorrow and increasing the joy of the mind. The leaves and floures of Borage put into wine make men and women glad and merry and drive away all sadness, dulness and melancholy, as Dios corides and Pliny affirm. Syrup made of the floures of Borage comforteth the heart, purgeth melancholy and quieteth the phrenticke and lunaticke person. The leaves eaten raw ingender good blood, especially in those that have been lately sick.'
According to Dioscorides and Pliny, Borage was the famous Nepenthe of Homer, which when drunk steeped in wine, brought absolute forgetfulness.
John Evelyn, writing at the close of the seventeenth century tells us: 'Sprigs of Borage are of known virtue to revive the hypochrondriac and cheer the hard student.'
Parkinson commends it 'to expel pensiveness and melanchollie.' Bacon says that it 'hath an excellent spirit to repress the fuliginous vapour of dusky melancholie.' Culpepper finds the plant useful in putrid and pestilential fever, the venom of serpents, jaundice, consumption, sore throat, and rheumatism.'
A strange but true the borage plant can produce both pink and blue flowers. You can also use the borage leaves as swizzle stick for fun.
Charles Dickens Punch
2 cups boiling water, ½ cup sugar, 2 tbl lemon zest, ¼ cup borage flowers, 2 cups sherry, 1 cup brandy, 4 cups apple cider
Steep the sugar, lemon zest and borage flowers in the boiled water for 10-15 minutes. Strain and add the sherry, brandy and apple cider.
Parting thought and a bit of Folklore; Young ladies used to spike the tea of their suitors with borage, so that they might muster the courage to propose marriage.