If you answered rosemary, you are correct!
Rosemary has a very old reputation for improving memory. In ancient Greece, students would braid sprigs of rosemary into their hair to refresh their memories during examinations. Because of this quality rosemary became associated with remembrance and fidelity, hence its symbolic use at both weddings and funerals. In Hamlet, Shakespeare illustrates this custom when Ophelia offers a sprig to Laertes saying, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray you love remember!” And in Romeo and Juliet, upon the discovery of Juliet’s body, Friar Lawernce bids onlookers, “Dry up your tears, and stick your rosemary on this far corse; and, as the custom is, In all her best array bear her to church.”
As with many other spices, modern studies indicate there may be some truth to its ancient reputation. In a recent experiment, people who were working in cubicles exposed to the scent of rosemary, did indeed show improved memory, scored higher on speed and accuracy tests and even had slightly improved moods!
The botanical name “Rosmarinus officinalis” derives from the Latin for “dew of the sea,” because of the belief that it can thrive with no source of water other than the fog and salt spray carried by the sea breeze. There’s also a legend attached to its common name: the story goes that the virgin Mary spread her blue cloak over a white-blossomed rosemary bush when she was resting, and when she lifted it the flowers had turned the blue of her cloak, henceforth the aromatic evergreen became known as ‘Rose of Mary.’
The leaves, both fresh and dried, are used in traditional Mediterranean cuisine. Whole sprigs are commonly added when roasting meats, poultry or vegetables. To chop fresh rosemary, strip the leaves off the woody stem and dice them very fine. You can use the stems as skewers after removing the leaves—on the grill this will impart delicious flavor to meats, especially lamb. Elevate the humble potato to divinity by simply tossing them peeled and cubed with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary in a hot oven for about 45 minutes. Just make sure to toss them occasionally so that get a lovely golden crust on them. Rosemary is a great addition to breads or biscuits and even makes a wonderful savory shortbread. For an attractive and unexpected flavor enhancement add a sprig to a tall glass of lemonade.
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