Rosemary is a wonderfully unique herb that grows in my kitchen garden and I think that even its name sounds like poetry. The characteristic fragrance still attracts my attention and often invites me to the kitchen just to smell the refreshing aroma. If you ask me to describe this fragrance, then it is not that easy. I can say it is delectably spicy and slightly piney, yet sweet at the same time. The flavor is another gift, it is distinctively sharp, pungent and slightly bitter. Actually, it´s better for you to taste it for yourself than for me to describe it in words.
Rosemary is the member of the mint family (Labiatae), with other valued herbs like peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm and basil. Leaves of rosemary are narrow, bright green with rolled-in margins. I have always been charmed by rosemary flowers, with their various shades of blue. This herb is native to dry, mainly coastal areas around the Mediterranean. Rosemary’s Latin name “Rosmarinus” is derived from the Latin "dew" (ros) and "sea" (marinus), or "dew of the sea" referring to the dew-like appearance of its pale blue flowers.
Rosemary has a rich history, this herb is full of legends. Rosemary is associated with fairies, witches, weddings and burials. As a symbol of friendship, loyalty, and remembrance, rosemary is traditionally carried by mourners at funerals. Rosemary was also often entwined into a wreath, dipped in scented water and worn by the bride on her wedding day as a symbol of love and a fidelity.
Rosemary's name is also rooted in another story that took place during the time when the Virgin Mary escaped from Egypt. The young lady was tired from the long way and stopped to take a rest near a fragrant bush. The Virgin Mary draped her blue cloak on this bush which had white flowers – and during the night, these white flowers turned blue. Thereafter, the bush was known as the "Rose of Mary".
Many of the historical references and legends surrounding rosemary are connected with the origins of the “Queen of Hungary's Water". This was the first European alcohol-based perfume, which was distilled from fresh rosemary. Around the 14th century, according to legend, this “water” was first formulated for Queen Elisabeth of Hungary (1305-1380). Hungary water was known across Europe for many centuries, and until eau de Cologne appeared in the 18th century, it was the most popular fragrance and remedy applied. In the 14 century Queen Izabella of Hungary claimed that, at the age of 72 years, when crippled with gout and rheumatism, she had regained her strength and beauty by using Hungary water that the King of Poland proposed her.
Rosemary has been used for its medicinal properties. Rosemary is rich in essential oil, flavonoids and phenolic acid, which have strong antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. This plant has many uses; it can be ingested to aid depression, nervous exhaustion, headaches and digestive problems associated with anxiety. It can also be used externally to treat rheumatism, arthritis, muscular injuries, wounds and dandruff.
Rosemary has been treasured for generations. Rosemary’s assertive flavor blends well to season lamb, pork and turkey roasts. Rosemary is perfect seasoning for any grilled meats and can also enliven tomato sauces, vegetable, and fish dishes. I often use rosemary with roasted potatoes, it is a really excellent combination. And sometimes, I like to use rosemary instead of cinnamon when making my favorite apple pie –the result really surprises the senses. Rosemary is an incredibly powerful herb that can easily overwhelm a dish –so it's best to start with the minimum. I recommend this herb to become part of your home garden. Legend says that a home which grows rosemary is a protected home. It is a wonderful opportunity for me to grow rosemary – a legendary and powerful plant. With it, I am happy and feel protected.
About the Author:
KRISTA KAUR, MSc
Krista holds a Master of Science and is an author of seven books on topics like biodiversity, ethnobotany and the environmental impact of agriculture. With over 20 years of experience as a botanist, she thrives off of making others feel empowered, connected, and inspired by nature.
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