Wondering whether Mexican oregano is different from the Italian oregano that most folks have in their spice rack?
The two are different plants, and each has its own “personality,” according to Patty Erd, co-owner of the Spice House stores in Wisconsin and Illinois. She described Mexican oregano as being more robust than Mediterranean oregano and better suited to full-flavored chili-spiked dishes.
In his book Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen, the Chicago-based restaurateur, television cooking show host and author wrote that Mexican oregano is “considerably different” from the Mediterranean type. Just take a sniff.
“The Mexican is pungently grassier [think fresh-mown hay] and more floral,” Bayless wrote. “The Mediterranean more anisey and sweeter [reminiscent of the aromas from a pizza parlor].”
Tom Erd, Patty’s husband, noted that the oregano often called Italian is found throughout the Mediterranean and might be called Greek or Spanish or Turkish oregano depending on its origin. This oregano is interchangeable, he said.
“If you have Greek oregano, and the recipe calls for Italian, you’re fine,” Tom Erd noted. “But if you have Mexican oregano and the recipe calls for Italian, you’re not — the flavors are quite different.”
— Bill Daley