Plucking a few bay leaves from my tree yesterday, I was struck by the similarity – almost identical, really – to laurel leaves. Deadly poisonous, are laurel leaves, full of cyanide! Imagine then that I had (innocently, of course) plucked the wrong leaf to simmer in my marinade of white wine and chicken stock? And that I had added this marinade to my steaming casserole of stuffed cabbage rolls and vegetables? And that I had served this fragrant dish to cantankerous Uncle Victor (enormous fortune; no apparent heirs) at lunch yesterday?

*witchly cackle*

As a purely academic exercise, I went to look up the top ten poisons used in crime throughout history. Alas, or luckily for some, it seems poison has waned in popularity as a means of killing people; this in the face of ever-increasingly clever forensics.

1. Cyanide
2. Strychnine
3. Arsenic
4. Snake venom
5. Hemlock
6. Heroin
7. The venom of the pufferfish
8. Violin spider venom
9. Belladonna
10. Castor beans

Perhaps I should just give Uncle Vic a voucher for a bungee jumping adventure?

(All the above is tongue-in-cheek; I don’t even have an Uncle Victor; but we did have stuffed cabbage for lunch, rather delicious).


36 thoughts on “MURDER MOST FRAGRANT

  1. I had to smile reading this…your dish looks very yummy though!! I know that oleander is one of the most poisonous plants in the world especially to children (It is known to be mostly grown in school yards!!!!) It is the neriine in the plant that’s dangerous and situated in the sap of the plant!! I’ve read that this can cause cardiac arrest!! Quite scary when you think that most of us don’t know this!! You are BRILLIANT my friend xxx

  2. This reminds me of something I read at the vet…Lilies are apparently toxic to cats. Not really relevant but oh well. That’s how my brain works. I like Belladonna simply for the way it rolls off the tongue.

  3. Reads like a mystery story, Cin. Fun!

    We had four acres in Humboldt (Norther California, redwood country) which was populated by a lot of bay laurel and oleander. I thought I could cook with the bay laurel…good thing I didn’t make an assumption and researched before using it.

    • Good thing indeed 🙂
      When I moved into this house, there was a huge comfrey plant. It’s recently been declared an illegal plant in this country for its toxity if ingested.

  4. OMG that’s surprising! I think of comfrey as potently medicinal. While living on a farm many years ago, we used it with other herbs to treat sheep for ‘hartwater’…with astonishingly good results. Also, it made really effective compresses for cows with mastitis 🙂

  5. Supposedly a bay leaf can be deadly on its own, because it is so tough, that if ingested it can create tears in or block the bowels which could lead to infection and ultimately death. I chuckle because one of my sisters, as a newlywed, whenever she used them in cooking, she encouraged her ex-husband to eat them. She had the mistaken impression that the fiber would be good for him having no idea of how bad they were for you to actually eat. After her divorce and learning about bay leaves, she wanted to feel bad about having coerced him into eating them. However considering the abuse and death threats she had suffered by him, she was almost sorry that he suffered nothing, not even a stomach from them.

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