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An aromatic leaf from the pepper family of plants that is typically grown in southern Mexico and northern South America and used as a food wrap. This leaf is harvested when young if the strongest flavor is desired or when older if a milder less pungent flavor is to be attained. The leaf is wrapped around fish, poultry, or tamales that can be baked, broiled, or steamed to generally impart the flavors of anis, black pepper and nutmeg into the foods. In Mexico, the sacred pepper may be referred to as Mexican pepper leaf, hoja santa or sacred leaf. In the U.S. it is known as Mexican pepper leaf or root beer plant because of its flavor similar to sassafras, which is used in the production of the root beer beverage.
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