Before about the 1950’s Australian cooking, in general, was very bland. If we ever used a herb to flavour a dish, it would have been parsley, and the curly one at that. But with the arrival of migrants from all parts of the world, our food became much more interesting.
The early Italian immigrants had established farms on the fertile area around Marsfield, but the New South Wales government bought them out to establish the Macquarie University in 1964. Many of these immigrants moved to Glenorie and bought land that had been citrus orchards, which had failed when the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Scheme came on line, and could grow all citrus with cleaner skins much more cheaply. These Italians have become an essential part of our community, and grow every sort of vegetables and flower you could imagine.
Rosemary and John Hemphill bought 5 acres of an old citrus orchard, just near Round Corner (745 Old Northern Rd. Dural) and started growing herbs, such as thyme, sage, and oregano in a traditional walled herb garden. Local Mother’s Clubs were invited to come for Morning Tea, where Rosemary served Herbed scones and gave a short talk to the mothers on using herbs to flavour their cooking.
Rosemary wrote a book called “Fragrance and Flavour” in the late 1950’s. It won a medal at the Frankfurt Book fair in 1959, and was reprinted 17 times. It is unavailable now . A copy of this book is probably stored away in many cook’s collection.
It was all about the many herbs and spices that were available to flavour food, including the use of exotic of spices. Their son, Ian, later established a whole business selling exotic spices and herbs. Rosemary and John built a shop next to their home, with a very distinctive “ A” frame roof and called it Somerset Cottage, as Rosemary grew up in Kent, and the memories of her grandfather’s garden influenced her in the design of her own Australian herb garden.
Over the years the business has changed hands several times, but it good to see that all sorts of plants are still for sale there.
The usual monthly meeting will be held at History Cottage on Saturday, 11th November at 2pm . All welcome. The annual Christmas Party for Members and friends will be held on Sat. 2nd December at 12 pm. RSVP