Spearmint means Dyosmos in Greek
Spearmint is the most know species from the family of mint (menta), which includes 25 different species of plants. In Greek spearmint is called dyosmos (pronounced as diosmos, δυόσμος) and its latin name is Mentha Viridis.
Spearmint is a very common herb in the Greek Salads and in Greek cuisine in general. Typically, when someone asks you to add some mint in the food or the salad in Greece, he refers to diosmos or spearmint.
The word mint comes from the Greek word mentha (or menta) and it used to be the herb of hospitality for the Ancient Greeks.
Physical characteristics of Spearmint – Dyosmos
The spearmint mint plant grows to a height of two feet and has rich green leaves, lance shaped with jagged edges. The flowers are usually pinkish or pink -lilac, and sometimes green. The plant prefers partial shade, but it is a rather strong plant and can flourish in full sun to mostly shade.
The main characteristic of the spearmint is that is very aromatic, which makes it so popular in the making of salads in Greece.
Usage of Spearmint (dyosmos) in Greek Salads and Cooking
In Greek Salads, spearmint is used fresh and finely cut, although in many cases you will see that dried spearmint is used if fresh is not available fresh. The leaves, fresh or dried, have a very pleasant fresh and aromatic flavor with a cooling aftertaste.
Spearmint is added in Greek salads to offer its refreshing and strong fragrant and taste. Indeed, if you add some dyosmos in a Green Salad, you will enhance its taste, making it truly distinctive. Spearmint is also an unusual but very welcomed addition to the typical Greek Salad, the horiatiki salad, especially when combined with basil.
Some people make spearmint based dressings for the Greek salad, especially in summer, because they want to give a rather more creative and refreshing tone to their lunch.
Spearmint goes particularly well with tomatoes, fresh greens such as lettuce and arugula, and cabbage. If you are eating a Greek salad or any of its variations, adding little dry or fresh spearmint will spice things up.
Dyosmos is also used as a flavor-adding ingredient in many tomato based sauces and meats, such as the meatballs (keftedes in Greek). You will also find it in candies and chewing gums, and recently in drinks such as Mojito. Greeks will tell you that mint is an excellent herbal tea.
Spearmint tea health attributes
Steeped spearmint makes a perfect herbal tea. The people of Greece consider it very healthy and drink it a lot in winter or when sick. Spearmint tea aids with stomach problems, facilitates digestion and calms all possible intestinal upsets and nausea.
Some people also inhale the aroma of dyosmos tea when cooked to relieve nasal congestion.
Hippocrates believed that spearmint tea was a strong aphrodisiac, so Aristotle had advised Alexander the Great to prevent his soldiers from drinking it during his campaigns and battles.