Spearmint is the most common mint found in markets and the most commonly used in Greek cooking. It is sold in both dried and fresh form, and if fresh is available, it is preferred. It is also a good choice for a home herb garden since it grows well. Physical characteristics:The plant grows to a height of about two feet. The leaves are a rich green, lance-shaped with jagged edges, and the whole plant has a wonderful smell. Flowers are tubular, pink to pink-lilac in color, and very fragrant. Usage: In Greek cooking, mint is used in everything from cheese dishes to tomato-based sauces, meats, and rice dishes. Steeped fresh mint is a favorite herbal tea, and commercially, mint is used as a flavoring in candies, gums, food, and drinks. The essential oils are used in confections. And, of course, sprigs of fresh mint add lovely decorative touches. Origin, History, and Mythology: According to Greek mythology, Hades, ruler of the Underworld, fell in love with the nymph Menthe. Persephone, Hades's wife, became wildly jealous and began to trample Menthe. Hades rushed forward and transformed Menthe into a shrub to keep her near him always. Persephone was appeased, thinking that Menthe would be trampled for eternity beneath the feet of passersby, but Hades gave Menthe a wonderfully sweet fragrance he could cherish each time he passed by.
The word "mint" derives from the Greek Menthe.
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