Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sweet Basil

I am growing some sweet basil for the first time this year. Basil is not something I use in my cooking frequently. Basically I use it for lasagna, pizza, and pesto sauce. Why is it called "sweet" basil? It's not sweet to me. Out of curiosity, I look it up on Wikipedia to see what Wiki has to say about sweet basil.

"Basil (Ocimum basilicum) (pronounced /ˈbæzəl/ or /ˈbeɪzəl/), of the family Lamiaceae (mints), is a tender low-growing herb. Basil is a culinary herb prominently featured in Italian cuisine, and also plays a major role in the Southeast Asian cuisines of Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. The plant tastes somewhat like anise, with a strong, pungent, sweet smell."

Sweet basil in the Southeast Asian cuisines????! I don't remember ever noticed sweet basil in Asian cuisines. There's Thai basil in Thai dishes, and that's about it. I read a little further down on the Wiki page on other basils.

"Most of the Asian basils have a clove-like flavour that is generally stronger than the Mediterranean basils. The most notable is the holy basil or tulsi, a revered home-grown plant in India and Nepal. In China, the local cultivar is called (traditional Chinese: 九層塔; pinyin: jiǔ-céng-tǎ; literally "nine-level pagoda")..."

"九層塔"! OMG! I remember this name. I was just a kid then and I couldn't stand the smell! When I asked my mother that that smell was, she told me it was 九層塔, and I never forgot that name as something to avoid. There are three herbs that I absolutely can't stand, and this"nine-level pagoda" is one of them. I had not idea that's a type of basil as well.

My pot of sweet basil was getting over crowded, so I divided it into 4 smaller pots. Mmmm, the smell makes me want to make a Margarita pizza.

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