Oregano is a flowering plant in the mint family Lamiaceae. It is native to temperate Western and Southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean region.
Oregano is a culinary herb, used for the flavour of its leaves, which can be more flavourful when dried than fresh. It has an aromatic, warm, and slightly bitter taste, which can vary in intensity. Good-quality oregano may be strong enough almost to numb the tongue. Among the chemical compounds contributing to the flavour are carvacrol, thymol, limonene, pinene, ocimene, and caryophyllene.
Oregano’s most prominent modern use is as the staple herb of Italian cuisine. There, it is most frequently used with roasted, fried, or grilled vegetables, meat, and fish.
The herb is widely used in cuisines of the Mediterranean Basin and Latin America, especially in Argentine cuisine.
In Turkish cuisine, oregano is mostly used for flavouring meat, especially for mutton and lamb. In barbecue and kebab restaurants it can be usually found as a condiment, together with paprika, salt, and pepper.
During the summer, generous amounts of dried oregano are often added as the aromatic and flavourful topping to a tomato and cucumber salad in Portugal, but it can be used to season meat and fish dishes as well.
The dried and ground leaves are most often used in Greece to add flavour to Greek salad, and is usually added to the lemon-olive oil sauce that accompanies fish or meat grills and casseroles.