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History Of Rosemary As Food – History Repeats Itself!

culinary.explorer's picture
The herb, which heals and beautifies and also gives a punch of flavor to the Mediterranean cuisine… What is the history of rosemary as Food?  
Let us take a short peek into the numerous health benefits Rosemary offers, before we excavate, what history has to tell us about the wonder herb.
Native to the Mediterranean region, the botanical name of rosemary is Rosmarinus officinalis and is grown by the ocean side. The Latin name for the evergreen shrub means "dew of the sea " thus clearly justifying the origin of the herb.
history of rosemary as food - the herb of wonders

If you happen to browse through the labels of your beauty product, (shampoo, creams etc) one ingredient which pronounces its presence is rosemary oil. Most of the pain-relievers (herbal) spell rosemary. Moreover if you are not novel to Italian or Greek cooking, the astringent taste of rosemary can leave a lasting imprint on your memory.
So how did rosemary feature into cooking? Let us look into the history of rosemary as food.
The footnote of the last paragraph talks about the flavor of rosemary leaving an imprint on memory. Proceeding further, yes, rosemary is associated with improving memory and intellect. So much so that ancient Greek universities had students wearing a wreath of rosemary herbs on their head, to improve their memory and thinking power.
The Greeks and the Romans since ancient times found great usage for this culinary herb. Rosemary’s  pungent flavor showed a capability to camouflage the flavor of spoiled foods or meats. So a sprinkle of the herb paved way for a good preservation technique. Talking of preservation and memory, rosemary was also associated with a lot of other qualities – in remembrance of love, loyalty , memory of the deceased(wreath of rosemary –leaves placed on the grave) as this herb technically was found to have honed memory power (which is the reason rosemary still adorns wedding ceremonies in the way of garlands).
A potion of alcohol and rosemary oil was used by the Queen Isabella of Hungary to relieve her from arthritis.
The history of rosemary as food dates back to 500 BC where both the Greeks and Romans made use of the leaves as  herb and  food-additive as well.
There are also legends associated with Rosemary to ward off the evil. That a sprig of rosemary kept under the pillow would secure one a ‘Good-night' sleep.
In 1987, the Rutgers University of New Jersey patented an anti-oxidant derivative of rosemary, which was applied to cosmetic products and food-packaging as well.
A cornucopia of goodness; Rosemary as a potent curative found way into a melange of cuisines across different cultures, proclaiming itself not only as a transcendental herb but also a punchy, flavoring preservative.
Rosemary leaves or sprigs offer a ‘shrub of  health and taste’, that the roots of history of rosemary as food, simply fructifies to a gloriously flavored health and living.

Photo Courtesy : tinyfarmblog.com

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