Anise grows in the Mediterrenanea, mainly in eastern regions. It’s widely used in cooking as well as in alcoholic aperiftis such as the Greek ouzo and the French pastis.
The plant belongs to the celery family but only its seed is used. This is collected during the summer months.
Anise is known since antiquity. It is used in the kitchen, in both savory and sweet recipes. In ancient Rome, a bunch of anise hung over the bed was said to ward off nightmares. The ancient Greeks used anise to combat insomnia–and even today folk tradition recommends an anise tisane sweetened with a little honey as a relaxant.
Aniseed’s Greek name–glykanisos (from ‘glykos’ which means sweet)–suggests its distinctive flavor which combines sweetness with the sharper taste that recalls fennel.