Food on Friday ~ Rosemary

redolent of Mediterranean mists and sea-dew

Rosemary grows wild on the shores of the Mediterranean, and is widely cultivated in the more temperate areas of Europe and North America.  This glossy shrub can be seen in decorative borders, kitchen gardens, herb gardens, and physic gardens, wherein medicinal plants are grown.

In Greek mythology rosemary is said to have been draped around the otherwise naked figure of Aphrodite when she came out of the sea.  A more Christian legend is that the Virgin Mary draped her blue cloak over a white rosemary bush while she was resting on her way to Bethlehem and the flowers turned blue.  The shrub was henceforth called ‘the Rose of Mary’.

Most decent cooks are familiar with this herb as an addition to meat dishes, lamb in particular.  However, it can be used judiciously as a seasoning to a wide variety of recipes; soups, casseroles, salads, and stews.  Use rosemary with chicken and other poultry, game (especially as its strong flavour enhances the strong flavours of game dishes), lamb, pork, beef steak, and fish, especially oily fish.  It also adds flavour to otherwise bland grains, mushrooms, peas, potatoes, and greens, (especially good with spinach).

If you a drop of strong drink, then perhaps try this rosemary pomegranate grilled meyer-lemon sparkler.  But beware, it’s much stronger than it looks.  For some reason rosemary adds a lot to the taste of pomegranate juice.

Rosemary also goes very well with gin, try putting a sprig of the herb into a fresh bottle and letting it stand for a week or so.

A rosemary gin fizz is a very refreshing, if potent drink.

Rosemary tea is easy to make and is said to have a host of health benefits, try sweetening it with Manuka honey.

The main active ingredients in this herb are tannin and saponin. (There is also a little thujone, which is the active ingredient in wormwood, used to produce real absinthe.) Technically this adds up to rosemary being good for the immune system, blood circulation, reducing cancer forming free radicals, as an aid to digestion, enhancing memory and concentration, (especially after a stroke), staving off eye problems, and staving off aging of one’s brain, (dementia).

Rosemary can have a beneficial psychoactive effect, it will not get you very high, but it will make you feel both relaxed and alert, at one in the same time.  As a sleep aid it can give you wild dreams.  (Actually rosemary is a very mild ‘legal high’.)

Rosemary is best gathered in spring and summer, but as an evergreen it can be collected fresh at any time of the year.  It dries very well.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

the flowers are very much favoured by bees

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