EVOO Flavored with Basil
Basil is a tender, low-growing, herb of the Lamiaceae (mints) family. It is originally native to Iran, India and other warm, tropical parts of Asia, where it has been cultivated for over 5,000 years.
Today, in addition to being an important ingredient in various Southeast Asian traditional and modern cuisines, including those of Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, basil is featured prominently in Italian cuisine also.
The leaves and flowers have a strong, pungent, sweet smell. The flavor, which is more or less strong depending on the cultivars, it is somewhat reminiscent of anise. The variety used in Italian cuisine is generally known as sweet basil, while the common Asian varieties are Thai basil, lemon basil and holy basil.
Despite the fact that most common types of basil are annuals, some varieties which grow in hot tropical climates, such as the African Blue and Holy Thai basil, are perennial.
The word basil derives from the Greek word βασιλεùς (basileus), which means 'king', as the legend tells that basil grew on the spot where Saint Constantine and his daughter, Helen, discovered the Holy Cross. The Oxford English Dictionary states that basil may have been used in "some royal unguent, bath, or medicine", while from a culinary point of view, basil is considered the 'king of herbs' by many chefs and food writers.
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