Basil

Does anyone not love basil? Seriously?

One of the joys of summer hereabouts is the wealth of basil plants scattered around the yard. I stick more in every year. This year I have got African Blue Basil, Cinnamon Basil, Greek Columnar Basil, and of course large leaf Sweet Basil. I put it in salads, gimcrack Thai style stir-fries, a killer linguine Parmesan with wilted spinach, garlic, chili pepper and pine nuts, and impromptu salads that are not much more than a sliced tomato, basil and sherry vinegar. I have started keeping a water glass full of basil stems on the counter since the weather turned to daily downpour because I got tired of going to get the dinner basil and coming in drenched.

The Engineer makes a wicked ass Basil Chocolate Cake every blue moon, since I don’t really like to eat a lot of cake, but he does so love to do one for my birthday and I have to admit it is divine. Borrowing from a local wine bar, he skips the frosting and does a drizzle of raspberry syrup and a dusting of castor sugar.

Azahar thinks I am weird for tweaking her basic tortilla recipe with roasted red pepper and basil but it is very festive.

Basil means “royal,” which is something to think about the next time you meet someone named Basil and think it is a prissy name. Carl Jung had a dream after his first heart attack in which his doctor appeared to him as a Greek king, a basileus of the island of Kos. “Basilisk” is a royal serpent, and if it looks at you, you turn to stone, sort of like Medusa but backwards. Harry Potter fans know the critter.

According to Boccaccio, apparently, the best way to get a vigorous basil plant is to pot it with a severed head.

Wikipedia states that there are up to 150 species of basil, depending on how specifically you care to categorize them.

Last year I had a basil plant so vigorous that it got woody and I really, really thought it might for once winter over, but then we had a single digit winter. Sigh.

Tell me something you do with basil.

8 thoughts on “Basil

      • Similarly, I’m a fan of making my own basil-infused olive oil, which I like to do to get exactly the flavor I’m looking for, using exactly the type of oil I want. And my favorite summer salad (or it was, before I realized I’m allergic to watermelon): small cubes of watermelon, small cubes of cucumber, tossed with ribbons of fresh basil, served in a bowl around the inside of which you rub a cut jalapeno pepper…it adds a tiny bit of zing without overwhelming the flavor of the other ingredients. Oh…and basil-infused salt…I’ve made that, too, and oh my god it’s so good.

  1. I just can’t get it grow outdoors here. Sad.

    Used to put the leaves on our no-bread pizza, just under a light coating of cheese. Way more cheese underneath of course. I love cheese.
    Now, what do you do with 8 square feet of oregano? Or sage? Because those are my triffids around here.

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