Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Two classic treasures
Two favourite things on my cookbook shelves are classics by Rosemary Hemphill. Rosemary Hemphill was born on 1 April 1922, in Broome in the north-west of Western Australia. Her childhood was divided between Broome and Bromley, England, where her love of gardens and all things green was born. Together with her husband, Rosemary established Australia’s first herb-growing business, Somerset Cottage. The buff covered book is Fragrance and Flavour: the growing and use of herbs. It is decorated with illustrations by Pixie O'Harris, the aunt of Australian entertainment icon, Rolf Harris. The pink dust-jacket is particularly treasured because it is a first edition. It is titled Spice and Savour: cooking with dried herbs, spices, and aromatic seeds. Illustrations in this book are by Claire Simpson. Rosemary and her husband John introduced Australians to herbs and showed us how to enjoy their flavour and to include them in our food. Prior to this, Australians used to rely heavily on Mixed Herbs, a dry and nameless concoction with no subtlety. I still keep a container that I use once or twice a year. I have to confess I love Mixed Herbs in my poultry stuffing. Fragrance and Flavour was awarded a diploma and a bronze medal in the literary competition held at Frankfurt-am-Main in October 1960 on the occasion of the International Exhibition of Culinary Arts. Rosemary and John's son Ian and his wife Liz continue the tradition. Ian and Liz run Herbie's Spices at Rozelle in Sydney. Herbie's Spices has expanded greatly in recent years and they are now invading supermarkets and the hoi polloi can have access to them not just the trendy basket weavers of Balmain and Rozelle.