All the ancient writers wrote about rosemary: Pliny the Elder (23-79AD) in his Natural History, and Dioscorides in his De Materia Medica, who said that it has “warming” qualities; and Hippocrates, the father of medicine. Its name comes from the Latin, ros meaning dew, and marinus meaning of the sea.
In ancient times and in the Language of Flowers and Herbs, it symbolizes fidelity, abiding friendship and remembrance. Brides used to wear garlands of it on their heads at their weddings, and in ancient Greece, young men would wear sprigs in their hair when they sat examinations to help their memory.
A gilded sprig of rosemary would be given to guests at the marriages of the rich in the Middle Ages.
It was reputed to keep away evil spirits and if you slept with a fresh sprig under your pillow you were supposed to have a good night’s sleep, and no nightmares. John Gerard, in his Herball, says that it wards off colds if worn on the head.
It has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory qualities so is good for wounds, and stomach disorders. It is also good to put in the water you use to rinse your hair, and when mixed with borax, it will get rid of dandruff, due to its astringency.
We think it’s good to put sprigs on BBQ coals as it flavours the grilled meat, and you can use its sprigs as skewers for shish kebabs.
If you boil half a pint of water and add 1tsp of the dried herb, this tea will calm you down and sort out any stomach problems you may have.
Try the recipe below for a taste of the Mediterranean, where it comes from originally.
1 shoulder of lamb
2-3 large onions, sliced
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
8 oz peeled and chopped tomatoes
12-14 pimento-stuffed green olives
4 oz. mushrooms thickly sliced
2 large sprigs of both rosemary and thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
half a bottle of red wine
1 tbsp tomato puree
½ pint water
salt and pepper
Fry meat in hot oil to seal it completely, then put in a covered roasting tin.
Pre-heat the oven to a low temperature.
Fry the onions, garlic and mushrooms and add to the meat. Pour the water, tomatoes and red wine into the frying pan and add the herbs. Stir until it boils and allow to simmer for 5 mins. Add the tomato puree, stir and simmer for a further 5 mins, then add to the meat with seasoning. Cover, put in the oven and cook for 3 hours.
This has Taste and is a Treat!