In classical times, bay laurel was made into wreaths to crown poets, scholars and athletes. Culinarily, the leaf is added at the beginning of cooking soups and stews and slowly imparts a deep, rich flavor. The leaf is left whole so it can be retrieved before serving the dish. Medicinally, bay laurel has been used as an antiseptic and a digestive. An old use is to put leaves in containers of rice or flour to deter weevils. The leaves dry easily on the stem. Fresh leaves are stronger than dried ones.