Home kitchens conjure images of creativity, conversation, and conviviality. Conversely, standard restaurant kitchens quagmired by their characteristic chaos, conflict, and capriciousness often crave the calm of home kitchens. Could there be a simple food remedy to the turbulent confines of the commercial kitchen? Ambient balms of lavender may be the natural, organic antidote to the intense stress of commercial kitchens.
Lavender commonly understood to be the derivative of the Latin root, lavare (to wash), clothed its meaning from purported uses in baths to purify the body and soul. Wafting its diacritic perfume around history, lavender has made its mark across cultures and times. Believed to have been used in Egyptian embalming practices, preserved lavender-like flowers were exhumed at the famous tomb of Egyptian Pharaoh, King Tut. Also during this time, lavender ungents were used in cosmetics and massaging oils exclusively by the wealthy classes and high priests. Greeks and Romans both connoted lavender’s ameliorating properties ranging from easing digestive disturbances to soothing burned skin. Lavender then plunked down into the domestic life of Arabs who later spread this perfumed herb throughout Europe. Making cameo appearances during the Middle Ages, lavender was used to stymie the spread of the flea-propagating Black Death. Radiating in Queen Elizabeth’s favor during the 16th Century, lavender emanated from the queen’s chambers, linens, clothing, teas, and foods. Pullulating through historic tribulations, lavender has now landed among contemporary practitioners of aromatherapy where it has been used to treat war wounds and the heightened anxieties of modern times.
The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) has defined aromatherapy as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. Aromatherapy has created these healing essences through a concentrated distillation of aromatic plant extracts termed as essential oils. Lavender is currently listed as NAHA’s top 10 essential oils employed for analgesic properties and relaxation. Further substantiating lavender’s prescriptive uses is a study that was conducted in 2006 by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Scientists analyzed lavender oil’s healing constituents and discovered that Linalool is the major constituent in lavender oil with the most concentrated levels of anti-conflict and anti-anxiety properties.
Along with being elemental in relaxation therapies, lavender has become an elemental ingredient in many culinary creations in the kitchen. Flavoring cakes, cookies, and sauces with a floral perfume, lavender has generalized to another domain of human life. Presently, english lavender is consider the finest type of cooking lavender for its sweetened flavoring and organic culinary lavender is recommended to reduce or eliminate an ingestion of pesticides.
Since lavender has already found its way into the spice caches of home and commercial kitchens, it seems natural to apply its other beneficial properties to the moiling toiling in the kitchen. If chefs applied dollops of lavender oil in kitchen corners or strategically placed lavender sprigs around the environment or incorporated lavender-infused cleaning products, then the ills and stresses of commercial kitchens may easily be alleviated.
*Lavender field image from 123RF
*Lavender sprig image from PeachyKeen Organics
*Lavender essential oil image from All Thing Woman Care