Oregano is a perennial herb from the mint family. While it thrives in warmer climates reminiscent of its Mediterranean origins, it has been successfully cultivated in various parts of the world, including Alberta. The herb prefers well-drained soil and ample sunlight. In Alberta's diverse climate, gardeners often opt for varieties known for their cold-hardiness or choose to grow oregano in containers that can be brought indoors during the harshest winter months.
Historically linked to ancient Greece and Rome, oregano has been used for millennia, both for its culinary and medicinal properties. The name "oregano" itself is derived from Greek, meaning "delight of the mountains." As trade routes expanded and global exploration surged, oregano found its way to different continents, including North America. In Alberta, settlers and immigrants brought with them cherished recipes which often incorporated oregano, and over time, the herb secured its place in Albertan cuisine. Moreover, Alberta's farming community recognized the growing demand for fresh, locally-grown herbs and began cultivating oregano to cater to this trend.
Oregano's culinary versatility is vast. In Alberta, it's a staple in dishes influenced by Italian, Greek, and Mexican cuisines, among others. From flavouring tomato-based pasta sauces to being a key ingredient in Greek salads and souvlaki, oregano's robust flavour shines through. It's also a favourite in pizza toppings, and in meat marinades. When dried, the flavour becomes more concentrated, making it suitable for longer cooking processes without losing its essence. Besides its use in traditional dishes, innovative chefs in Alberta often experiment with oregano, introducing its unique taste to modern fusion recipes and further embedding it in the province's gastronomic landscape.