The name of this tall leafy herb sounds quaintly delicate, but lovage still packs plenty of punch. Its flavour is often compared to celery - and in French it's known as céleri bâtard or false celery. The German and Dutch common names, which reference Maggi soup seasoning (respectively, maggikraut and maggiplant), give more of a clue to its complexity.
Every bit of the plant - from root to seeds and stem - can be eaten. At Bar Liberty in Melbourne you might find a snack of fried potatoes with puréed mussels and lovage powder, while at Franklin in Hobart it crops up with clams, peas and fried bread. Firedoor chef Lennox Hastie became a fan of the herb working in France's three Michelin-starred La Maison de Marc Veyrat.
"It's got a musky spiciness like cumin and fennel," he says. Hastie enjoys lovage scattered over eggs, or in pasta. "Use it like nettle - blanch and incorporate it into the dough. It gives the pasta a verdant green colour and the flavour carries through."
Hastie also suggests candying the hollow stems and using lovage flowers and pollen the way you'd put fennel to work.