Early Greeks wove marjoram into funeral wreaths and planted it on graves to symbolize their loved ones' happiness both in life and beyond. There are many species of this ancient herb, which is a member of the mint family. The most widely available is sweet marjoram, usually simply called "marjoram." It has oval inch-long, pale green leaves and a mild, sweet, oreganolike flavor (wild marjoram is another name for oregano). Marjoram is available fresh in some produce markets and supermarkets with large fresh-herb sections. More often it is found dried in small bottles or cans. There's also a very hardy species called pot marjoram, which has a stronger, slightly bitter flavor. It's found throughout Mediterranean countries but rarely seen in the United States. Marjoram can be used to flavor a variety of foods, particularly meats (especially lamb and veal) and vegetables. Because marjoram's flavor is so delicate, it's best added toward the end of the cooking time so its essence doesn't dissipate.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.