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May 2, 2011 10:46 PM

Marjoram - Does it taste funny to you?

About 4 years ago the BF and i were at an "upscale" restaurant (for the area we were in) for a NYE dinner. I can't even remember the dish, but at the first bite we simultaneously looked up at each other in disgust. It tasted like mold. We called the waiter over, and asked what herbs were used in the dish (it wasn't a dish that would "likely" accidentally have mold - not cheese, not mushrooms). He went and checked with the kitchen and said marjoram and thyme. We told him the seasoning tasted strongly of mold. The waiter said something about the combination of these herbs were supposed to taste like this. He also quite ridiculously told us that we must have "similar palates" - um, yeah, our ultra-refined palates can detect mold!

A few months ago, had a pizza at one of my absolute favorite upscale pizza places in the Bay Area - went with a chef friend - and that was the first time neither of us absolutely loved their pizza. listed on the menu for that pizza - marjoram. Yesterday I bought some homemade soup from a local vendor - a mushroom cream - and the first sip brought back that same musty, moldy memory of that NYE dinner! BF tried it too - same reaction. I'm pretty sure it had marjoram in it.

So ok, maybe we just really dislike marjoram - but is it really supposed to taste.... moldy? i've never had fresh, is that any better? Is it like cilantro, where some people experience the taste as soapy and others don't?

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  1. Interesting question, mc. Marjoram is related to oregano, so - at least to me - it tastes very similar to oregano, if not more intense. It goes *really* well with chicken dishes, and one of my favorite pasta dishes is farfalle with shrimp, zucchini, a little cream, and a good amount of fresh, chopped marjoram. Who knows, you may hate it '-)

    4 Replies
    1. re: linguafood

      I've been growing it for a number of years now, and that's kind of how I tend to think of it: like oregano, but better (even floral, perhaps, like Krislady says below). I love it, and put it to use in a number of applications from sauces, to meatballs, to grilled fish and chicken, even homemade pizzas.

      Maybe the offending culprit is either dried or is a lass fragrant variety of marjoram.

      1. re: linguafood

        Oooh, marjoram is an herb I haven't used much in the past unless specifically called for in a recipe. I absolutely love oregano...fresh, dried, powedered, crushed. Love it, and use it in lots of stuff. I am going to get acquainted with marjoram, sounds like I will love it!

        1. re: jlhinwa

          I have to say I LOVE oregano - and HATE marjoram even though they are somewhat similar. I do find that marjoram has a "musty" flavour that I find thoroughly unpleasant. I am using them dried, not fresh so that may be a factor. But I am definitely not about to run out and try fresh marjoram, based on how I feel about the dry stuff. Blech.

          1. re: Ferdzy

            aha! ONE CHOWHOUND who sensed the same thing i did! Thanks for the validation! ( : although, i think i am going to try with some fresh, since all my other fellow CHers can't be all wrong!

      2. I find it tastes very flowery - floral, I guess I mean. I don't think I've ever had it dried, though - only fresh. I've only recently started using it regularly - the past two or three years, I've put it in my herb garden. It seems to me almost like tarragon - not flavor-wise, but that it's a very distinctive taste, and a little bit goes a long way, and too much would definitely be off-putting.

        Not that any of that helps you, does it?

        1. I don't like either oregano or marjoram in anything. I can't remember if I thought of it as mold-like, it's been so long.

          1. No. I associate marjoram with northern European sausages. In Sweden, it's associated with Christmas, when it's used to season ham, as well as meatballs and sausage. I'd describe it as having a pleasant, kind of dusty herbal taste that specifically enhances pork. That's dried marjoram.

            It's been a while since I've used it fresh, but I definitely don't remember a mold flavor. If it tastes like mold to you, maybe that is an individual reaction, like the cilantro phenomenon.

            1. Hmmm, interesting.

              I too grow marjorum year round, and use it pretty often. Usually in a recipe that calls for oregano, but I want it to be more fragrant and use the marjorum. I use mine both fresh and dried (tied in bundles, hanging from the kitchen ceiling).

              I've never come across any moldy tastes or anything off putting. Perhaps what you had was fesh when purchased, but maybe wasn't dried out properly, causing some spoilage or mold?

              You got me on this one!