I know, I know. Rosemary, again. I wrap with it and decorate with it and stuff it in chickens. Next thing you know, I’ll be weaving it into my french braid so that when I strum the guitar in front of the fire I can toss my hair over my shoulder and stir its scent into the air. I’m just kidding. My hair’s not long enough for a french braid!
A few days ago, in my post on wrapping paper, I used a line about Greek restaurants in Astoria, New York. I knew what I wanted to write, that I have enough rosemary to supply all the restaurants in the business of making Mediterranean lamb and rosemary dishes, but I didn’t want a marathon sentence. In my first draft, I decided the word Greek flowed better than Mediterranean, even though all countries along the Mediterranean cook with both lamb and rosemary. I know, I tend to over think things. What’s more, I’m just getting started.
Once I figured out which word to use, I researched where the largest concentration of Greek restaurants are in the continental US. I wanted the sentence short and snappy, the opposite of this post. The answer, obviously, was Astoria, New York. I have no idea if it’s true, but I suspect it is. The internet never lies.
What may not be obvious is the purpose of this post. It’s only to share the interesting mythology I learned while researching rosemary, lamb, Greek restaurants, the Mediterranean, and common cooking techniques of countries that border the Mediterranean Sea all to write a post on wrapping paper. The rosemary mythology, it would appear, is quite contentious among art historians and other academics. Hold onto your pocket protectors, fellow word-nerds, your heart is about to take flight.
There are several camps. The first one holds that rosemary derives from the Latin name rosmarinus or “dew of the sea.” This refers to the hardy plant’s ability to live on only the humidity of the sea’s breeze. Fair enough. Another camp believes the bush was born from the semen of the Greek god, Ourano. Aphrodite gets a name check, too, mainly because she exits the sea draped in rosemary. First of all, eww. Second of all, I don’t know how the rosemary didn’t wash off in the water or how Aphrodite got it to drape since it stands straight like a soldier but, whatever.
The third theory involves the Virgin Mary. Historians say that during her flight into Egypt, she stopped to rest against a bush with white flowers. Since this bush was prickly, she draped along the top her blue cloak. When she got up from her rest, the flowers on the bush had turned the blue of her cloak and the plant from then on was referred to as the rose of Mary.
Pretty neat as far as useless information you will never forget, right? You can imagine which version this romantic Catholic fancies most.