I have this little herb that I planted in my front garden. Actually, I moved it from my former home to this one. It is a herb that is hard to find here in the U.S.. It is called Mexican Oregano, Lippia graveolens. But I call it Muchacho, my Wild Child. Why you ask? This:
It reminds me of a little boy with a bad haircut!
I love this little plant. It is a fragrant herb that tastes sort of like a cross between Greek oregano and marjoram. The flavor is sweeter than the usual oregano. As you can tell by its name, it commonly grows in Mexico and Central America high up on dry mountain slopes. It is widely used in Mexican cooking.
But the attributes of Mexican oregano don’t end with cuisine. Closely related to Lemon Verbena, Mexican Oregano is also a medicinal tea. Studies have shown that the bioflavinoids in this pretty little herb are useful for combating respiratory infections and menstrual issues. To use it for these issues try it as a tea: use 3 cups boiling water to 1/2 cup of fresh leaves or 3 teaspoons dried. Steep for 15 min. Feel free to add other herbs for additional flavor, especially any dried mint.
One of the things I love best about this herb is that the tiny little leaves are so easy to dry and use in my kitchen.
I don’t really need to crush them when I add the dried leaves to my cooking.
I strongly suggest that you dry them on a flat rimmed surface like a cookie sheet or baking pan. They are easy to dry quickly on their stems , but the brittle little leaves practically harvest themselves by falling off the stem when they dry. If you try to dry Mexican oregano by hanging bunches by their stems, be sure to put a paper bag with a few holes punched in it over the bunch or you will end up with bare branches and a pile of leaves on your floor.
This is what he looks like after a haircut:
I treasure my little Wild Child because it is really hard to find this plant here in the U.S.. If you want this plant be careful of the labels on herbs. This is NOT Greek, or Mediterranean, or Italian Oregano. Those oreganos have a warmer, stronger, more resinous flavor. It is not “Wild” oregano either, although it does grow wild in Mexico. Wild oregano is another name for Marjoram, which is probably a closer flavor to Mexican oregano, but not the same.
If you are not lucky enough to find this plant or buy some Mexican Oregano from your local bodega, you can make a sort of flavor mimic by combining common oregano with an equal amount of marjoram, and a tiny bit of lemon verbena. Close, but not quite the same. But it would give you sort of an idea of its delicious flavor.
If you are lucky enough to find this herb, be sure to keep it on the dry side. Over watering it is the enemy. If the plant survives too much water, the leaves will have an insipid flavor. When your little Muchacho is really happy, it will reward you with tiny white flower clusters at the tips of its unruly branches. Bees and butterflies will love you for them. They are full of rich nectar.
If you try Mexican oregano, let me know what you think of it.
Until Next Time,