Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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bergamot the name for herbs of the genus Monarda, especially M. fistulosa, in the mint family. These are indigenous to Mexico and N. America. Some are used as flavouring herbs, additions for salads, or pot-herbs.

M. fistulosa var menthifolia, known as oregano de la sierra, provides in the south-west of the USA a flavour akin to that of true oregano.

M. didyma is also known as Oswego tea, indicating its former use in making a beverage, or as bee-balm (but see also balm).

There is no connection with the bergamot orange (Citrus bergamia), except for the coincidence that M. citriodora, lemon bergamot, has a citrus aroma. Bergamot oil (used to flavour what is known as Earl Grey tea) comes from the orange, not the herbs. The bergamot orange is not edible and is grown only for its fragrant oil, although its peel is sometimes candied. It is grown (almost exclusively) in the Italian province of Calabria.