Spice in the Spotlight: Rosemary

19 Nov

Lately, I’ve been using quite a bit of rosemary in my cooking. Rosemary works well both on bread, in soups, and with potatoes of all sorts.

Rosemary is highly fragrant. The longer rosemary is cooked, the more fragrant it seems to smell. The scent is something like the freshness of mint but much sweeter and more appealing.

Fresh rosemary is absolutely divine; I had the blessed fortune of cooking with it recently and “doctoring up” some basic rolls from Wal-mart.

I’ve mentioned before the toast with rosemary, garlic, and cumin on it; rosemary goes so well with bread, but the real secret of rosemary is how well it flavors potatoes.

A photo of chopped rosemary

Typically, this spice is powerful and adds more than simply a hint or mysterious flavor. Be wary of using an excessive amount, for the taste will come through clearly in most cases, especially if you’re using fresh rosemary.

Despite how many people don’t trust the use of Wikipedia, the Wikipedia entry on rosemary says that name comes from the Latin rosmarinus, which means “dew of the sea,” because of how little water the rosemary actually needs to survive in certain locations.

There’s an interesting mythological association with rosemary as well.

Rosemary has long been associated with the Virgin Mary. It is said that the plant had white flowers until one day, on her flight to Eqypt she placed her cloak on a rosemary bush and the flowers turned blue. The name rosemary was supposed to have associations with the name of Mary. However this is not true. Rosemary grows in dry rocky areas of the Mediterranean and the sailors name it ros and marinus which translated into dew of the sea.

Another explanation of the name comes from the legend It was thought that the rosy “dew” was the blood and semen of Poseidon /Neptune who was apparently castrated, his parts being thrown into the sea impregnating the waves and from which Aphrodite emerged. Alternatively, the testicles of Uranus who as castrated by his son were thrown into the sea and Aphrodite arose out of the sea from the testicles. Aphrodite became the the mythical goddess of love, beauty and raw sexuality.

When she emerged from the sea, the local nymphs or naiads covered her body with the myrtle plant however pictures portray rosemary being used as well. The associations with the castration led to the belief that rosemary is also a symbol of virility and fertility making it even more appropriate at a wedding ceremony

Isn’t that fascinating? Many herbs and plants have similar legendary origins that make them well worth knowing; I definitely encourage you to learn about them!



1 Comment

Posted by on November 19, 2010 in food


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

One response to “Spice in the Spotlight: Rosemary

  1. Project Van

    November 21, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    i miss my herb garden i had once….sigh!!

    one day i will have one again!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: