By most accounts, people began cooking with rosemary in the early Middle Ages; it was especially popular with the European nobility. These days, the herb is a particular favorite of the Italians, who use it in both savory and sweet dishes, and if the French, especially in Provence, where a rosemary tisane to aid digestion often ends a large meal. And although I've flirted with all kinds of herbs since that magical night over a decade ago, my own heart still belongs to rosemary. Why? Long after its cousins start to wilt and fade in the refrigerator, rosemary holds its own, ready to be stuffed into the cavity of a chicken, tied around loins of pork or veal, or dipped as a bunch in olive oil for brushing onto fish. I never tire of stripping the long, sturdy stems of their gray-green, leathery, needlelike leaves in one swift motion (try that with oh-so-delicate tarragon, or even thyme), sending forth a clean, wintery scent and leaving a slightly sticky, aromatic resin on my fingertips. I use the resulting bare stems as skewers for fish, meat, or vegetables or throw them onto burning charcoal to help flavor whatever I am grilling. As for the leaves, after crushing or chopping them to release their bold flavor, I toss them with new potatoes and olive oil before roasting; make a crust with bread crumbs for lamb that's been smeared with dijon mustard; even add them to orange slices marinated in red wine.