Salvia rosmarinus or Rosmarinus officinalis: Wild Rosemary Bush in our Parking Lot and the Balm of Fierbras
November 10, 2020
Did you know that Salvia rosmarinus or Rosmarinus officinalis commonly known as rosemary, is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosemary I had known these shrubs on my walks around the parking lot, and I had seen bees around them. But for some reason yesterday I really noticed the plant, and broke off a few branches to smell the leaves. Indeed, it smelled like Rosemary. I thought they were native, but they are a transplant from the Mediterranean that has a very similar climate to our little corner in Southern California. This is a wild growing cultivated plant. Just reading the Wikipedia page there is a long history of it’s journey during Greek and Roman times, through Europe, and finally “Rosemary finally arrived in the Americas with early European settlers in the beginning of the 17th century.” Then at some point it arrived in a little hidden corner of our HMO Parking lot.
I know that the particular non-descript HMO complex I work at was built about 30 years ago. Rosemary plants can live about 30 years. I wonder how old this plant is? I wonder who planted it? I love Wikipedia. It details the history of Rosemary and “In Don Quixote (Part One, Chapter XVII), the fictional hero uses rosemary in his recipe for balm of fierbras.” What is the balm of fierbras? “According to a chanson from 1170, Fierabras and Balan conquered Rome and stole two barrels containing the balm used for the corpse of Jesus. This miraculous balm would heal whoever drank it . . . Don Quixote mentions to Sancho Panza that he knows the recipe of the balm. In Chapter XVII, Don Quixote instructs Sancho that the ingredients are oil, wine, salt and rosemary.” When Don Quixote drinks the balm of fierbras, he vomits and sweats and is healed from it. Sancho gets diarrhea and is nearly killed from it.
With that auspicious meandering research, I am looking at the rosemary I gathered a bit differently.
Rosemary can definitely be used in cooking, as a rub for meats and I’m hoping to try it on tofu and mushrooms – still trying to increase my vegan cooking chops. I would love to be able to propogate this particular shrub to have it in our house. Other friends have offered their rosemary plants, but this plant has special meaning because it’s in our HMO parking lot.
I did make my first food project from it, which was really easy. Rosemary infused olive oil. I have extra virgin olive oil I bought at Sprouts, and I initially worried about it going bad. That is what would happen with bulk ingredients in years prior. But now that I am cooking more, especially making our own pesto, the olive oil is being used up at a reasonable rate. So I reused a pretty glass container that my mother-in-law has kept for years. She bought it at a yard sale or a church bazaar. I washed and dried some of the Rosemary I foraged yesterday, and warmed up olive oil and simply put them both in the pretty container.
What does fancy Wild Rosemary Infused Olive Oil cost? If you buy it on-line = it’s $9. For me, it was free. And oh so fun. It truly is. And this is Dr. Plastic Picker who is always somewhat anxious of being the pediatric rendition of Don Quixote https://drplasticpicker.com/don-quixote-is-this-a-cautionary-tale-for-drplasticpicker/. Will I be healed by the rosemary in the balm of fierbras? Or will I be like Sancho, stricken down with diarrhea by rosemary’s laxative properties and come closee to death. I do hope it is the former, and not the latter. Honestly, everything in moderation – even Salvia rosmarinus or Rosmarinus officinalis from our HMO parking lot. I’ll just drizzle some here and there on bread or salad.