Il Basilico – L’Erba Regale Posted by Serena on Aug 2, 2009 in Uncategorized
It’s difficult to imagine Italian cuisine without il basilico (basil). The name basilico derives from the Greek word basilicòn which means ‘royal’, and in fact it was the Greeks themselves who introduced this most archetypal of Mediterranean herbs into Europe, importing it from its native habitat of India. For the Romans, besides being an important aromatic ingredient in their cuisine, il basilico was the emblem of gli innamorati (those in love).
Il basilico is an annual arbusto (bushy plant) which can grow up to about 60 cm high. It is used a lot as an aroma (an aromatic ingredient) in la cucina Italiana (Italian cuisine), especially in sughi al pomodoro (tomato sauces), insalate fresche (fresh salads) and, of course, as the main ingredient of Pesto alla Genovese.
If you want to grow il basilico at home you should plant it in a fairly light soil, or terriccio (compost), and keep it well watered. It has a sweet fragrance, especially when it gets a lot of sun, and the scent of the leaves is at its strongest just before the plant begins to flower although older leaves tend to have a more piccante (peppery) flavor.
One of the hidden benefits of il basilico is that it attracts le api (bees) and therefore helps with l’impollinazione (the pollination) of other plants growing nearby.
The Egyptians, incidentally, incorporated il basilico into the balsam which they used to mummify their dead, but I’m afraid I don’t know the whole recipe!
Coming soon……….Ricette Italiane col Basilico (Italian Recipes with Basil).
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