Oregano is a culinary herb, used for the flavor of its leaves, which can be more flavorful when dried than fresh. It has an aromatic, warm, and slightly bitter taste, which can vary in intensity. Good-quality oregano may be strong enough almost to numb the tongue, but cultivars adapted to colder climates may have a lesser flavor. Factors such as climate, season, and soil composition may affect the aromatic oils present, and this effect may be greater than the differences between the various species of plants.
Oregano's most prominent modern use is as the staple herb of Italian cuisine. There, it is most frequently used with roasted, fried, or grilled vegetables, meat, and fish. Oregano combines well with spicy foods popular in southern Italy. It is less commonly used in the north of the country, as marjoram generally is preferred.
Dominican oregano (also known as Jamaican Oregano, Cuban Oregano, Oregano de la Isla, and Spanish Oregano) is darker in color, more savory, and quite pungent than the more common Italian variety. Because of the more robust nature of this oregano, it works exceptionally well with dark meat.