Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pearlfleur Passport: Got Sage ?

For those who are cooking the traditional Thanksgiving dinner this year, chances are you are digging around the cupboard to try to find that little tin box of the herb sage so you can put a pinch in the turkey and dressing. Just a pinch, mind you, Good cooks know that too much sage transforms its woodsy, minty flavor to a bitter musty tang.

Sage has been part of the human story for many years, and not just for turkey and dressing. It has a long tradition in herbal medicine, as well as in the kitchen. In medieval times the French called the herb "toute bonne," which means "all is good." It has been used to treat a wide variety of illnesses from sore throats to snakebites. Some herbalists even say that a combination of sage with other herbs may slow the development of diseases like Alzheimer’s. That is an interesting claim, since the word sage also means "a person who is wise" or who has "sound judgment."

The sage plant is lovely, with blooms that form a spire over gray-green leaves. Okay, it is nice to look at, but our only interaction with sage thus far has been pretty limited. We shove those leaves into the carcass of the turkey, place them around the bird on the serving platter (presentation makes any old dry turkey better); throw a dash of sage in the dressing, and then put the rest back on the shelf until next year. When we meet up with sage this way each November, it seems to be an insignificant herb.

But if we think about it from a different angle, sage is anything but insignificant. There is a saying that originated during the Middle Ages about sage that makes an important point for this special November holiday:
"Why should a person die, when sage grows in his garden?"

That tells us that our "sage" doesn’t come in a little tin box, but from within. Our personal sage is not insignificant at all. It is sharp and savory. If we use it wisely (with "sound judgment’) our presentation will be stunning. Those folks of years ago had it right. Keep your sparkle. You got sage !

Please leave a comment.
We would love to read your best – funniest – most inspiring – craziest – Thanksgiving memory.
this is bailey. i am a pocket mouse.
sage? yuck.
my best thanksgiving memory is punkin pie!
apple is yummy, too.
when people are asleep, i love to type, type, type.
bye for now,



Ruthie said...

What thoughts about sage. My favorite Thanksgiving memory is of my whole family gathering at my house and before we eat, we go around the circle and each person shares what he/she is thankful for. It is always a moving experience, ending with tears and hugs. As the years go by, and some dear ones have passed on, the precious memories of their presence with us is another touching moment.

LizzieG said...

Great post, you two. I think you are really onto something with your blog.

I like Ruthis's comment, too.

My Thanksgiving moment is more on the humorous side:
It was the big family Thanksgiving with three generations. You get the picture. Well, we were all finally sitting down together in the dining room and starting to eat the feast. I thought I felt a RAINDROP on my head. Surely not.

Then I saw others start to look
up at the ceiling, too. And, horror of horrors, it really was water up there, and the equivalent of a downpour rained down on us.

It turned out that my cousins (aged three and five at the time) had dutifully gone to the upstairs bathroom to wash their hands before dinner. They had turned on the faucet full strength, but what they FORGOT to do, was to turn it off. What a mess we had!

I am not sure if that qualifies for funniest memory or craziest, but it sure was unforgettable.

burning windmill said...

I hear it is rather trendy to deep fry sage these days?

Sage for me always goes with onion :-)

Pearlfleur said...

Thanks, Ruthie, for telling us about the circle of thanks at your house. It sounds like a great idea, and we are going to try it this year, too. We'll think of you when we do. :)


Pearlfleur said...


The image of the family Thanksgiving with "rain" falling from the ceiling is pretty funny.
I guess you never know what kids are going to do.

Thanks for sharing. Hope it stays dry this year. :)


Pearlfleur said...

Burning windmill,

Fried sage might be good. Will keep an eye out for it.
Sage and onions do go together.
Maybe we can think of an "onion" post for the future. :)

Thanks for the comment.
I enjoyed visiting your site, and will check in again.


Bart said...

Bailey, you crack me up. My favorite is apple pie, too.

One Thanksgiving we had quite a snowstorm. A friend who was with us for the holiday, could not get out of my parents' driveway and had to spend the night. We ended up playing cards for hours until it was really late. It was exciting to have someone stay over when I was a kid AND I got to stay up way past my usual bed time, which was a big deal back then.

Pearlfleur said...

Dear Bart,

It sounds like fun to get snowed in at Thanksgiving with friends and family. At least there would be lots of food in the house. I always like those turkey sandwiches after the big meal. I think I like them even more than the traditional feast.

Thanks for the post.

June Bug said...

My favorite Thanksgiving memories are of when I was a kid. My brothers and sisters are all much older than me (the closest one in age is 12 years older) - so holidays meant that they'd be home for a few days. Then I could return to being a spoiled "only" child! ha!

Thanks for your nice comment on my blog - and GO SOONERS!

Pearlfleur said...

Thanks for the posting, Junebug. It sounds like you had it made when your older siblings came home for a visit.

Isn't it interesting how many of our favorite memories are tied to things we remember from childhood?

My favorite Thanksgiving was the one when my grandmother let me "graduate" to the adult table from the kid table. My cousins were so jealous, and I thought I had it made. Then I realized that the kid table was more fun. Alas.

Hope your holiday this year is terrific.


Denise said...

Hello there, thanks for dropping by my blog. I would be happy for you to link mine to yours, thank you very much for asking.

One of my Thanksgiving memories was when we invited my husband's brother and wife one year. I was new to the States, a relatively new bride and new to cooking turkeys. It was the first time I had cooked one and I had missed the bag of giblets inside. I didn't even know it was in the cavity. So I cooked the whole thing, bag and all. My sister-in-law told me I was going to give us all food poisoning, on top of that my gravy turned out lumpy. Not a good beginning but we did end up eating the turkey and I was very thankful that no-one got sick afterwards!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pearlfleur said...

Thanks so much for your comment, Denise. I think we have all had some comical adventures cooking big meals for family events.

One of the first years I cooked for a crowd I must have spilled juice from the turkey in the oven, because it caught fire. I realized this when I heard one of the guests in another room say, "It smells like something is burning." Yikes. Had a time putting it out, but (thank goodness) the meal was saved.


Amie Vaughan said...

Thanks for you comment on my blog-- it's always nice to see new faces.

Last year, I spent Thanksgiving alone here in Scotland-- but I did one of the most American things I could think of (eating the Pizza Hut buffet and watching three films at the cinema). It was actually quite a nice day, but not traditional by any means... but you do what you have to do, and sometimes it requires some creativity. =D

Pearlfleur said...


I loved your blog, and I will visit again. Your Pizza Hut buffet sounds perfect for celebrating an American holiday in Scotland ... plus THREE films ... what fun! Thanks for visiting and for sharing this.


Finn said...

Hi Pearlfleur, I popped over to thank you for stopping by at the Orphan Train blog and leaving such a nice comment.
I suppose it's an odd sort of blog, but the interest seemed to be there when I started it. The history of the Orphan Trains that ran transcontiental betwee the mid 1850's and the l930's has been part of my life for many years.
It's been fun sharing some of the tidbits with many younger quilters who shun the unwanted, unused and orphan blocks they create.
I look forward to reading more of your 'sage' advice and observations. Hugs, Finn

Anonymous said...

Back in the 1930s when i went to my paternal grandparents home there was always comments was there to much sage in the stuffing. There were times when there must have been because my paternal grandfather who was not French would start singing a drinking song in french and the remarks would be made i guess there was extra sage.
The Rose King

Anonymous said...

A friend and I are talking about our Thanksgiving of this year. We found your blog and began discussing 'sage.' After a few minutes we came to the conclusion that the Thanksgiving dressing can have either cornbread or sausage or oysters or chestnuts or walnuts or a hundred other things that tempt the taste buds. However, SAGE is the constant.

Thanks for tickling our memories and reminding us of our own sage.

The Two of Us..........

Pearlfleur said...

To The Rose King and to Anonymous,

Dear Rose King,
Wow, if sage can help us with our French, we DEFINITELY need to use it more. Paris, here we come.

Dear Anonymous,
Thanks for stopping by. It has been fun thinking about sage this way. Hope you read and make comments in the future.