I found it odd that a spice would have a person’s name. I bought it for that fact alone, ‘cause I knew nothing about the spice. Once home, I opened it and took a sniff. Wow! I couldn’t wait to cook with it. So I began by asking gardeners about the spice. I had no idea why I wanted to use the stuff. I just knew the scent was strange enough to want a second sniff. It was something about the smell that intrigued me.

The gardeners talked about studies that show red meats like steak, when cooked at high temperatures, create heterocyclic amines (HCAs), potent carcinogens implicated in many cancers. Using rosemary extract (a common powder) with red meats, and soaking the meat for an hour or two before cooking, destroys the HCAs. Rosemary contains carnosol and rosemarinic acid, two powerful antioxidants. Studies show tumors dislike rosemary.

Aside from red meat, I sprinkle rosemary on fried potatoes when they’re almost done. I use it on my toast and in soups. Like no other spice, I always felt the need to sniff it before using it and didn’t know why. I finally met a gardener who said, “when you sniff rosemary, cortisol, the stress hormone in saliva, drops.” That’s a good thing, because the hormone increases blood pressure and suppresses the immune system. Studies show sniffing rosemary gets rid of radicals, the perky molecules believed to speed aging and disease. Keep sniffing.