Spice of Life

Basil -“the king of herbs”

Basil is also know as St John’s -wort and it is part of the mint family.

Origin- Native to India, best known in Italian cuisine

Nutrients- Excellent source of Vitamin K and Magnesium

Health Benefits

  • -preservation of cell structure
  • -Antimicrobial properties
  • -Antiviral properties
  • -Ant-inflamatory properties
  • -Cardiovascular health is improved due to the magnesium source Basil provides

Cooking

  • pesto- combination of basil, olive oil, pine nuts, parmesan ┬ácheese (I add sun-dried tomatoes to mine)
  • Chinese, Thai and Taiwan add basil to soup
  • Thai basil can be steeped in cream for use in ice cream or chocolate truffle

Basil should be added at the end of cooking to preserve the best flavor

Fresh Basil has the best flavor although it can be dried or frozen as well.

Over 160 different types of Basil- here are some of the most common

  • Lemon Basil
  • Sweet Basil
  • Cinnamon Basil
  • Holy Basil
  • Purple Basil
  • Camphor Basil

Cultural Uses of Basil

  • Associated with the feast of the cross that commemorates the finding of the “true cross” by Emperess Helena
  • John Gerard, an herbalist, found that if you were stung by a scorpion basil consumers would have no pain
  • Jewish culture believes basil adds strength during fasting
  • It is believed the basil was found growing on the cross so plants are often placed below the altars in orthodox churches and used to prepare holy water.
  • Mexico a bunch of basil is hung is the doorway or window of a shop for prosperity

Death and Dying Rituals

  • Europeans placed it in the hands of the dead to ensure safe passage
  • India -basil was placed in the mouth of a dying person to ensure they reached God
  • Ancient Egyptians and Greeks believed basil would open the gates of heaven for the dead

 

 

 

 

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