Bay leaves were used for flavoring by the ancient Greeks. They are a fixture in the cooking of many European cuisines (particularly those of the Mediterranean), as well as in the Americas. They are used in soups, stews, meat, seafood, vegetable dishes, and sauces. The leaves also flavor many classic French dishes. The leaves are most often used whole and removed before serving (they can be abrasive in the digestive tract).
Substitute: 1/4 tsp thyme