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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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borage Borago officinalis, an annual or biennial plant common in the Mediterranean region and as far north as C. Europe and Britain, has pretty blue flowers, hairy leaves with a mild cucumber flavour, stalks which may be cooked as a vegetable, and a reputation for enlivening those who eat it.

Borage leaves, and often the flowers too, are added to various drinks, but for the sake of the flavour rather than in response to testimonials such as the following. Burton, the famous 17th-century authority on the Anatomy of Melancholy (1st edn 1621) named borage as a good plant ‘to purge the veins of melancholy’. Gerard (1633) wrote: ‘Those of our time use the flowers in sallads, to exhilarate and make the minde glad.’ c (1699) declared that borage would ‘revive the Hypochondriac and chear the hard Student’.