BAY LEAVES: A CULINARY FRAUD

We could all use some good news for a change. I’m happy to report that the price of bay leaves has fallen substantially since I last bought a bottle of the cooking herb. Two years ago they priced out around $1,100 per pound. Last week I scored a bottle for $4.99, or $712 per pound.

This got me to thinking that it might be a good time to dump my holdings in gold Krugerrands and buy a few pounds of bay leaves. The South African coins were trading at $1,900 each seven years ago, now settling in at around $1,260.

I sense you are making sport of me for this idea. But if bay leaf futures completely tank, at least I have an investment that will season my stews and chowders for years to come. Can’t say that about gold coins.

It’s difficult to understand the concept of supply and demand. I use bay leaves for cooking twice a year. I pay $700/pound. I use toilet paper every day. TP checks in at $3.40 a pound.

At $700 a pound for bay leaves, I’m left to wonder if this plant should even be legal, or at the very least, classified as “medical” bay leaves. Will it cure glaucoma? Curb nausea? Why do we then, throw a couple in a pot of chicken soup and rave about how it makes our soup taste?

It’s quite possible that bay leaves are a culinary fraud. An ingredient wannabe. Lady Baba sent me to Shaw’s last week to buy some for her short ribs recipe. I resisted. But I love beef short ribs so I sucked it up and added $4.99 to the price of the meal and have no idea why bay leaves are needed. In fact, they are a choking hazard. They don’t soften from hours of cooking and if you inhaled one, your cost of dinner would skyrocket by the $1,100 ambulance ride to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center.

Blogger Claire Lower writes, “Bay leaves are the dryer sheets of the kitchen.” Bingo. Dryer sheets are frauds, too, allegedly designed to minimize static cling. Since I don’t own any polyester leisure suits these days, I see no reason to use them. Just like bay leaves.

I guess if my bay leaves investment portfolio crashes, I can throw them in the dryer with my oxford shirts and underwear. Then we’ll see what they’re made of.

Further research shows that sweet bay has applications beyond the kitchen and laundry room. Veterenarians us it as an udder ointment. According to webmd.com, sweet bay might cause sleepiness, too. If your dinner host overserves you with bay leaves, the sugar in them could interfere with blood sugar control and slow down the central nervous center. No one wants that.

What started out as a good news column has suddenly taken a turn south for which I apologize. Just remember. Toilet paper is three-bucks a pound. Bay leaves: $700/pound. Too bad bay leaves don’t come in two-ply.