Have you ever cooked something, proudly served it, when suddenly someone jumps up and exclaims:

“Oh my God! You forgot the bay leaf!”?

Of course not.

You know the story Stone Soup? The bay leaf is the stone. You know the story The Emperor’s New Clothes? That’s us falling for the bay leaf. You know Where’s Waldo? That’s a game people play seeing who got the hidden bay leaf. If no one got it, everyone scarfs down firsts and tries again with seconds. This family activity gives the dead leaf its only reason for living.

Yesterday, I made soup. And yes, I put in the bay leaf. Actually, two bay leaves. Why? I don’t know. It’s part of the homey tradition of making soup. I just wouldn’t feel motherly without putting in that dried-up prankster.

All comments in defense of this aromatic, flavor-enhancing dried thing that’s been in your cabinet for five years are welcome.