Faced with the economic meltdown, it's really nice to sit down to a hunk of braised pork shoulder that's been slow cooked for half the weekend in a bay-infused broth. You feel like you might just be able to bear it all.
Bay leaves add a lot to the flavor of the broth in your stew. Sauces and stocks have always been bay’s forte, where it plays the same role as bass player in a rock band. It's a foundation spice that you add early to back up and enhance the main flavors.
There are other dishes worth exploring, too. Dried figs cooked in wine with bay are excellent. Or try potatoes, browned in duck fat, cooked with half a dozen bay leaves.
Bay is almost always used dried, though you'll rarely find it wild-picked, like this. This is some of the best bay I’ve tasted, and I think the fact that it's uncultivated has much to do with it. Gathered in mid to late summer in Sicily, when the new spring leaves have matured.