A category of food that isn't sweet, usually used to describe meat or a hearty vegetable or potato dish. It's a somewhat murky distinction, but a good rule of thumb is: if you can add salt to it, it's savory, if you can add sugar to it, it's not.

Savory can also be used more generally to describe anything tasty and edible - the word does simple come from the french/latin root meaning "flavour" - but this is a somewhat archaic use. Savory is also spelled savoury in Canada and the UK.

Savory/savoury is also an herb, used to add flavor to european foods since before they started importing pepper to cover that old-meat taste. I read one place that this use was the origin of the other sense of the word (archaic, says yam. Listen to yam. She knows things.)

It's a member of the mint family (see the square stem?), and comes in two types: summer savory and winter savory. Now is the point in the writeup where i confess: i don't use savory in my cooking. So this is all hearsay, ideathified. They say summer savory is milder, subtler and more tender than winter savory, to the point that it can be used as an accent in green salads (in its fresh form, bien sûr!). Winter savory is more - well, potent. They say it can be used to substitute for marjoram, or rosemary. They say savory loves beans, or beans love savory, and they're gonna run off together one day, and a white bean soup with savory might be in the works. Rumors. But you never know with these herbs. I also hear that savory is good in stuffing. Bread stuffing.

Despite summer savory being milder, i guess neither of them are particularly bland, so (as with any herb you haven't used before) give it a good sniff before using it, try a little of it, and use it sparingly until you get a sense of what it does. I'll do that, and hopefully have a recipe for you one of these days. I'm thinking potatoes or eggs.

If anyone knows of a noded recipe with savory in it, please let me know, so i can link it as a reference.

While yam's rule of thumb (viz. that if you can add salt to it, it's savory, if you can add sugar to it, it's not) is appropriate for the western palate and cuisine, it flounders and drowns in many a non-western context, where food predilections are rather different.

Well I remember the first time I experienced this apparent category confusion: peanut butter, eaten as a child, bought by my mother from a market in Ghana. Burning mouth, wide shocked eyes. It contained quite a bit of hot chili. They use it, it turns out, for stew. Not toast.

Much later, fresh watermelon in Mexico. Sprinkled with salt and chili. That was a surprise.

And Thai food, a cuisine with which I am intimately acquainted, just blows those thumbs right out of the water. Not only a mixture of sugar, salt, and chili on your pineapple, canteloupe, watermelon. Also, salt in your orange juice. Sugar on your pad thai. Fish sauce on your green mango. Does it never end?

It's a topsy-turvy world indeed out there, fellow gourmands.

Sa"vor*y (-&ybreve;), a. [From Savor.]

Pleasing to the organs of taste or smell. [Written also savoury.]

The chewing flocks
Had ta'en their supper on the savory herb.


© Webster 1913

Sa"vo*ry (sA"vO*r&ybreve;), n. [F. savorée; cf. It. santoreggia, satureja, L. satureia,] (Bot.)

An aromatic labiate plant (Satureia hortensis), much used in cooking; -- also called summer savory. [Written also savoury.]


© Webster 1913

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