Here's a list of what herbs I'm actually growing, which is, well, pretty much any herb I find and can manage not to kill in gruesome ways. Eventually, I'll try to have a list of foods that have blended well with various herbs, but right now, I'm still starting out in the realm of fresh herbs and food. I tend to throw everything together and see how it all falls out. :-)
Herbs and edible flowers in my herb garden:
basil, Italian Genovese
cilantro, unkown varieties, also known as coriander
stevia - best stuff ever for someone who can't have other sweeteners!
Tarragon, Mexian (also known as Texas Tarragon)
thyme, lemon (this may not have survived the winter)
verbena, purple (variety? no clue)
I am also attempting to grow some local, native herbs from the southwest area, but I don't even KNOW the names of some of these, so I'm making no attempt at trying.
My Herbal Experience:
I'm pretty new to this whole herb garden thing. I started trying to grow one for the first time about 12 months ago, I think it was. Maybe 15 months. Never grew one before in my life. But spices and seasonings are making me ill, and so are fresh herbs I'm attempting to buy at the store, so it was learn to grow them myself or eat bland food forever after.
It's surprisingly satisfying to grow herbs, it turns out. Something about making a dish and just walking out to the yard for all the seasonings gives me a real feeling of accomplishment and self-sufficiency. Although that self-sufficiency might be a little under-developed if I examine it too closely. >_<
The smell in an herb garden is always amazing, even more so in the mornings. Tangy, earthy, sweet, fruity, spicy - depending on where you walk and what you rub between your fingers, you get a completely different sensory experience. I go out sometimes just to bask in the herb garden, listening to the dull buzz of the bees and inhaling quietly as I pretend that the rest of the day will be just as quiet and sweet smelling.
I also really enjoy walking along picking an herb here and there to pop a leaf or flower into my mouth. It's fun to mess around and mix the flavors. Like, a leaf of sorrel and a leaf of stevia? Best herb combination ever - it tastes like you just made lemonade out of two leaves. Seriously. Try it sometime. It's awesome.
And even as bitter as some herbs are when I eat them raw, I'll find myself craving certain ones at various times. Considering that many herbs are high in various vitamins, I like to think that my body's cravings are trying to tell me something.
The best part about growing herbs is that herb are very forgiving. They tend to have a stronger taste if they are a bit stressed, with not quite enough nutrients and not quite enough water.
...let's just say my herbs have a REALLY good strong taste, LOL.
I've been completely hooked by my herbs, at this point. I don't know how to cook anymore when I don't have all these seasoning choices available. My food feels duller without them. My yard would be less enjoyable to traverse - I rarely step outside without eating at least one herb or flower.
For anyone else who is trapped with a limited diet, I would highly recommend starting an herb garden to help liven up your food. Truly, there is an amazing variety of flavors and visual elements to the herbs available, no matter what climate you live it. I hope you can enjoy them as much I have!