I want to travel someday and one of my dreams is France. It has been since I was a little girl. I don't even remember when it started. I just seems to have always been there this wish to go to France. It's not specific to Paris - although its a must, duh - I want to see all of France.
In that vein one thing I have always wanted to try cooking with is Herbs de Provence. A unique blend of dried herbs including savory, fennel, basil, thyme, and lavender among others. Not a list I generally use in my daily cooking. I have always found it in catalogs and online in cute little ceramic pots that just evoke French country cooking. I've never bought it. I have never bought any herbs online, the whole 'know a reputable dealer' and all. This isn't something that I have ever really pursued or researched or even intentionally sought out. It has just been there in the back of mind.
Well, the other day walking through my local grocery store I had a coupon for a latin brand of spices that was about to expire. I was glossing over their selection assuming I'd get something ordinary like onion powder and then I saw a little tag that said "NEW Gourmet Blends". They had Italian Spice Mix and wait for it Herbs de Provence! HUH?! I couldn't believe it. I had to get it. I think they new I was coming and put it out just for me. I figured how bad could this be. They are dried herbs. I am sure there are better quality dried herbs but how bad could this be? I read the ingredients. Thyme, Basil, Savory Fennel, Lavender - wow, they are all there! I could not wait to get home and open it up and smell it. When I did, I could smell them all distinctly, I was soooo happy. I laughed to myself. Such a little silly thing a plastic container of dried herbs was making me giddy. I HAD to use it that night. Dang- we were going out. Fine, the next night. I made our Sunday chicken which is just a baked chicken. Perfect. I was smiling just shaking it on. I was the only one that noted the difference as it cooked. There was a hint of flowery lavender in the air. This did make me a little nervous because typically I have not liked flowery flavors in my food. I have tried many a dessert with lavender or rose water and sorry to say had to spit it out. But I was confident that I would like the chicken. At dinner I waited for the others to try it first. They made no comment. Then I tried it. YUM! There was definitely a difference how could they not say anything. I asked them if they liked the chicken. They both said yes and asked why I was asking had I done something different to it. Yes, I told them I put different spices on it. They shrugged. They couldn't tell. URGH! No matter, I could tell and I liked it.
I have since added it to a number of dishes and they still can't tell. I even added it to salad greens but the flavors were a bit strong for me. I prefer it cooked. So, I still haven't been to France but I got a little piece of Provence in my cabinet. Comfort and Joy!