The world of gastronomy was rocked last night as a series of top chefs went public with claims that the addition of bay leaves to stews, soups or sauces has no effect whatsoever on the dish’s flavour, aroma or consistency.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a chef from a double-starred Michelin restaurant in London’s West End told us, “Bay leaves have been promoted as an essential part of the cooking process in soups, stews, seafood and sauces for as long as anyone can remember – but it’s all a sham.
“Most people think it’s odd that something that looks and feels like one of those plastic tabs you use to seal the end of a sliced loaf, and doesn’t break down during cooking in any way whatsoever, should add anything to a dish.
“But because chefs have always insisted bay leaves must be included, they shrug their shoulders and chuck a couple in. But people are right to be suspicious. Let me assure you, they do f**k all.”
We contacted another chef, who has worked at a number of restaurants in London and Paris, and who again spoke to us on condition of anonymity.
He told us, “Blimey, you’ve finally noticed? Yes, it’s true. In fact, it’s pretty much an open secret in the trade. To be honest, I’m not sure why bay leaves were first used. I heard a story that it was because it was funny when they weren’t fished out in time, and people either gagged on them or chewed away for hours without making any impression.
“To be fair, it is pretty funny seeing someone choke on a bay leaf.”
We contacted the Bay leaf Marketing Board at their Milton Keynes headquarters for comment.
They issued a statement which said, “We note the recent reports about the ineffectiveness of bay leaves, and we would like to place on record that such allegations are thoroughly absurd.
“Bay leaves have been used in cooking for thousands of years – there is, for example, evidence that ancient Romans used them to flavour their stews and soups. Just because it’s funny to watch people chewing away for hours on one, getting increasingly baffled and angry, is merely a fortunate by-product.”
Following the revelation, additional claims have been made that adding a thickened sauce to a diner’s plate and then running the back of a spoon through it acts as more of an irritant than a presentation improvement, whilst foraging for ingredients locally, rather than nipping to the wholesalers, is just f**king ridiculous.