The dried leaves of the Laurus nobilis tree, in the Laurel Family. They have a subtly sweet astringency and an herbal, slightly floral aroma, similar to Oregano and Thyme. They are used commonly in Mediterranean and French foods, but they are also seen in Thai, and Arabic recipes. They can be used in pickling, soups, stews, meat, seafood, vegetable and even custards and rice pudding. The leaves are most often used whole and removed before serving.