I’m never happier than when I’m at home on a leisurely weekend, keeping an eye on the stove while a big pot of homemade stock, soup or pasta sauce bubbles away for hours. And since a lot of those long-simmering recipes call for bay leaves, I’ve dutifully dropped one or two of the leaves into pots for years with the faith that I was infusing the liquid with some elusive-yet-magical essence.
But when I sat down to eat, I often wondered: Do I actually taste the bay leaf, or am I just imagining that I do? Come to think of it, what do bay leaves even taste like? Are they worth the money? And when a recipe calls for a bay leaf, does that mean dried or fresh? Can they be used interchangeably?
I realized that while I liked the ritual of dropping those leaves into simmering pots of comfort