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The ancient Greeks even had a myth for mint

Published Sep. 13, 2005

(ran TP, NP, ST editions)

Greek mythology traces mint to the story of Pluto, god of the underworld, who fell in love with a nymph named Minthe.

That enraged Pluto's wife, Persephone, who stomped on Minthe. Pluto rescued her by turning her into a plant, one with a fresh, appealing scent when crushed.

Romans and Greeks used mint in rituals and rites as well as in medicine. In India, mint was put in temples, where worshipers would step on it and release the fragrance.

Several cultures considered mint a symbol of hospitality and used it to signal that the guests were welcome.

Source: International Herb Association.

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The book, lavishly decorated, is an ideal gift for a budding cook with a taste for the sweeter things in life.

Recipes range form old-fashioned layer cakes to special sauces and include nostalgic notes from the author.

The book, published by Little and Brown, costs $11.95 and is available in bookstores.