23 Jul2008

A Crown of Laurel…

by Marketman


A crown or wreath of laurel leaves is synonymous with a victorious one, either in games or sports or war. Apollo was often depicted wearing a crown of laurel leaves and my recent posts of our trip to Delphi brought us to the heart of the Pythian Games (at the elevated stadium where buck naked athletes strutted their stuff) and the ultimate link to the laurel wreath. The root word laurel has since made its way into terms like Baccalaureate and hence achievement in academics is also often recognized with these flavorful leaves that perk up our own humble pork adobo. So where is this all leading? A bizarre occurrence of chance and timing, and this as the resulting post… You just never know what the next post is going to be about on Marketmanila.com, and neither do I… Perhaps the biggest chance of The Kid receiving a true laurel wreath for an Olympian effort could have come from an equestrian event. But a freak accident a few years ago saw her flying off her mount and breaking a collar bone, dampening her enthusiasm for the sport. She is also an avid tennis player, but like me, dabbles rather than aspiring to be the next Wimbledon champion.


There are many kinds of laurel plants around the world, but they are still relatively similar, and are mostly used to flavor stews and other slow-cooked dishes. I have one plant here in the heart of Manila, though getting it to grow and thrive wasn’t too easy. I have always dreamed of having several prolific bushes but that hasn’t happened yet. So imagine my surprise the other day when the doorbell rang and a friend sent this incredible bounty of fresh laurel leaves! It came with a wonderful note, a gift in response to some fresh millet (kabog) I had sent over the day before, and she noted that the laurel leaves were from a farm in Australia… Now, tell me, WHAT are the chances that I would type a post about Apollo and Delphi, then receive a whole bunch of fresh laurel leaves the following day??? I was floored by the coincidence. And while stressing out over how to make use of the bounty, I decided there were enough leaves to craft an honest to goodness laurel wreath!


What was amazing about these laurel leaves was how bushy the branches were, and it seems that the leaves are actually thinner than the variety I grow in the yard, which are stiffer and thicker. I decided I needed to dry whatever leaves I couldn’t use up immediately and made this simple wreath which I lay rather ceremoniously on The Kid’s bust/head, which depicts her at the tender age of 4. It was really easy to make the wreath as the branches naturally curved and this is a classic style in the form of a horseshoe rather than a continuous circular arrangement of laurel leaves…


As the leaves dry, I can pluck them off The Kid’s head and throw them into whatever dish needs more flavor! :) As for M, thank you so much for sharing the laurel leaf bounty with us! The Kid was amused when she returned from school to find a laurel wreath on “her head,” but in our eyes, she has always put in an Olympian effort in anything she does, so the wreath is well placed. Just a bit of a bad hair day effect, don’t you think???



  1. Topster says:

    As 08-08-08 approaches, the Olympic fever rushes in. We may (slim chance) or may not have a shot at the Gold, nevertheless, the spirit of camaraderie of the games should be the one to move us together and not just the achievement of winning prizes.

    Just like the Greeks of antiquity, the simple crown of laurel leaves would suffice, and for me, using those leaves in my next adobo dish is worth a gold medal!!! =)

    Jul 23, 2008 | 2:16 pm


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  3. Roberto Vicencio says:

    The first time a saw a full-grown laurel tree was just the lat Sunday of June. We visited the place of a former shipmate in Angeles city and his father-in-law gave me a tree cutting. I was also given another cutting, that of a cacao tree. I am still trying to figure out what I will do with these. I need to go down to the province to plant this because I do not give them much chance of thriving here in the Metro. I have seen cacao trees in Pangil, Laguna. I know I have had the pleasure of drinking the choco drink from that plant.

    Jul 23, 2008 | 4:38 pm

  4. corrine says:

    Wow, I would love to receive a gift of laurel too…champion talaga! I am on the lookout where to buy laurel tree or bush? and nutmeg tree. I read somewhere long time ago that there’s one in Bae Laguna. I wonder if Herbana Farm has too?

    Jul 23, 2008 | 11:19 pm

  5. marghi says:

    God is the best event planner…the coincidence
    is just too mind-blowing……….

    Jul 24, 2008 | 1:30 am

  6. semikewl says:

    Sort of off topic, but my daughter’s name is Laurel. In the Philippines, people automatically think she is male (PAL has messed this up so many times) and pronouce her name the spanish way. Lol

    Jul 24, 2008 | 8:13 am

  7. Marketman says:

    semikewi, too funny. I know what you mean. The same thing happens to men named “Angel” which wascommon decades ago and traditionally pronounced in the Spanish way. But today, all of these starlets have the name Angel, pronounced in the western way… and the airlines can never get that straight… Laurel is a wonderful name, by the way. :)

    Jul 24, 2008 | 8:18 am

  8. Cecile J says:

    Just a thought: how were the leaves from Australia brought in? Were they quarantined first? Cos I think that it is prohibited to bring in plants or leaves as they may have pests that may contaminate our local plants.

    Jul 24, 2008 | 8:44 am

  9. Marketman says:

    Cecile, they were probably brought in by air freight and not quarantined. The same way thousands of crates of fruit, veggies and other agri products are brought in and not subjected to quarantine either. Unfortunately for our pineapples, bananas, mangoes and other fruits, they can’t do the same journey to Australia so easily…

    Jul 24, 2008 | 9:45 am

  10. sonianer says:

    what a most apt way of handling the fresh laurel leaves — and drying them for future use, the bad hair day look not withstanding. ” pluck them out of the kid’s head. . . ” you are so funny!

    the bust of The Kid looks so good. do you mind sharing who did it?

    Jul 24, 2008 | 9:48 am

  11. Marketman says:

    sonianer, a relative of my mom is a fairly well known sculptor. On my mom’s deathbed, he asked her what she wished for… at which point she said, “You must promise me that you will do a bust of The Kid before she is five years old,” and her wish was eventually fulfilled. We cherish the piece, for obvious reasons… P.S., did you have relatives at Mamou for dinner the other night? A table near us had several folks with your last name… :)

    Jul 24, 2008 | 10:12 am

  12. Cecile J says:

    Oh, so they are not so strict for incoming flights? I have always wanted to sneak in plant cuttings for my Ma whenever I am abroad but was deathly scared of being stopped by some Customs guy and handcuffed for bringing in orchid plants or some thing! Hehe. Now I know….

    Jul 24, 2008 | 1:25 pm

  13. Marketman says:

    CecileJ, I once brought in several wine bottles filled with cultured baby orchids (hundreds of baby plants in each bottle) from Thailand or Indonesia and the customs guy looked at them and waved them through! At worst, they will ask you to leave the plants in a bin and they will be destroyed, but I have never seen that happen. Friends of ours brought back several live lotus plants from Bangkok in their maletas! Of course, we should be concerned about bringing bugs across borders but for the most part, customs are more worried about drugs, electronics and the like…

    Jul 24, 2008 | 1:47 pm

  14. MarketFan says:

    Are laurel aka adobo leaves better used fresh or dried? Any discernible difference in flavor?

    Jul 24, 2008 | 5:32 pm

  15. Marketman says:

    Marketfan, dried they seem more pungent and stronger, but fresh they are more subtle and flavorful as well. I use them fresh in some stews or sometimes in conjunction with dried… fresh ones can also be used with grilled shrimp, for example…

    Jul 24, 2008 | 7:31 pm

  16. sonianer says:

    hi Marketman.

    i was not in mamou that night. i would have wanted to be there to support the restaurant’s heartwarming generosity but i had to be elsewhere.

    okay, i know who the sculptor is. what an honor for the Kid to have her portrait done by a national artist! your mom certainly knew what to ask for. must have been a doting grandma with good taste at that!

    Jul 25, 2008 | 8:47 pm

  17. Marketman says:

    The Kid was less than a year old when her lola passed away… So she is lucky that her lola’s request/wish was implemented…

    Jul 25, 2008 | 9:57 pm

  18. marghi says:

    A little bird told me they were brought in by private plane…hence no quarantine…

    Jul 27, 2008 | 12:38 am


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