In Greek mythology, the Titan Prometheus is credited with using a stalk of fennel to steal fire from the gods for the benefit of humanity. While the feathery foliage was bestowed with fire-stealing powers, the seed was chewed to tame bad breath, indigestion and flatulence.
Fennel seed is also one of the ingredients in the classic infant colic formula known as gripe water.
Fennel is a flowering perennial in the celery family commonly grown as a garden vegetable and for its feathery, licorice-flavored foliage. Fennel is also harvested for its seed, the flavor of which is comparable to anise. In fact, although the herb is sometimes referred to as anise, it should not be confused with the spice star anise.
Fennel seed has many culinary applications. It is used to flavor breads, cakes and cookies, as well as cordials. The seed is also prepared as tea, which reputedly helps to settle an upset stomach and relieve gas.