May 29, 2010

Rue, an Herb of Days Passed

"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray, love, remember: and there is pansies. that's for thoughts. There's fennel for you, and columbines: there's rue for you; and here's some for me: we may call it herb-grace o' Sundays: O you must wear your rue with a difference. There's a daisy: I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died: they say he made a good end..." Ophelia in Hamlet

Common Rue is a small shrub native to Europe. It is a strong, bitter, herb and has been used for culinary and medicinal uses for hundreds of years. In Medieval times it was thought to ward off the plague, witches and lice and was used to treat snakebites. Later it was said to improve eyesight and creativity; it is said that many famous Renaissance artists ate it to improve their skills.Too much rue can poison a person but in the 1600s it was used as an antidote for poison. It was also used to cure arthritis. If you are cut, and touch it, blisters will form. It used to be used sparely in Middle Eastern foods and is currently used in Ethiopian dishes. It currently seen in European gardens as it creates neat hedgerows and is cropped easily.           

I am writing about rue today because, while at the living history farm a few weeks ago, someone handed a bunch of it to us ladies in the kitchen. He told us to hang it to deter mosquitoes.We both smelled it and touched it, wondering what it was and we hung it without a second thought. Later that day, one of our friends said "What is this doing in here where people can touch it?" in a surprised tone. He told us what it was and we ladies looked at each other in fear as we remembered all of the handling and smelling of the rue. None of us were harmed. It is said that some people are more apt to be affected by it than others. It's good to know we are a relatively hardy pack of women.

8 comments:

  1. Hello Stephanie!
    We want to thank you for visiting our blog!
    Your blog looks so interesting!
    By the way, Rue has always been one of our family's favourite herbs!
    God bless you.
    ~Rachel

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  2. Rachel, thank you for commenting. What does you family use rue for? It is not used at all here.

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  3. I am looking for penpals with gmail as i love chatting.

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  4. How interesting! Sounds like a useful little herb!

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  5. I had heard of rue before, as a term describing a blend of flour and butter (fat) that was mixed and used as a thickening agent - but that was "roux". Are these two related?

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  6. Seahorse321, I am not sure. I can find nothing linking the two. I know roux in French is red and rue in French is street. Thanks for commenting. If I find an answer, I'll let you know.

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  7. I grow Rue in my garden and make it into a salve to use on my tendonitis. I love to run my hands through it and smell it and have never had any problems from it.

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