Rosemary is a distinctive woody shrub, Rosmarinus officinalis, that grows in the dry Mediterranean scrublands, with leaves so narrow and tightly rolled that they look like pine needles. It has a strong, composite scent, made up of woody, pine, floral, eucalyptus, and clove notes. In southern France and Italy it traditionally flavors grilled meats, but it can also complement sweet dishes. Rosemary aroma is unusually well preserved by drying.
From the book On Food and Cooking (2nd edition) by Harold McGee. © 2004 Harold McGee. By permission of Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.