Basil now grows in many regions throughout the world, but it was first native to India, Asia and Africa. It is prominently featured in varied cuisines throughout the world including Italian, Thai, Vietnamese and Laotian. The name “basil” is derived from the old Greek word basilikohn, which means “royal,” reflecting that ancient culture’s attitudes towards an herb that they held to be very noble and sacred. The tradition of reverence of basil has continued in other cultures. In India, basil was cherished as an icon of hospitality, while in Italy, it was a symbol of love.
Although more than 60 varieties of basil have been identified, they all fall into three main types: sweet, purple, and bush. Each offers a subtle difference in taste; varieties such as lemon, anise, and cinnamon basil give you an idea of how one might modify and enhance a recipe. It only takes a few leaves to transform a simple dish! It also has been found to contain oils and flavonoids that protect the body from illness and infection. Very small concentrations can kill harmful bacteria, but still be very beneficial, even preventing atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and stroke.
Basil plants are easy to maintain indoors and out. Snip off budding heads whenever they appear and underneath the base of a leaf near the bottom on spindly stems to keep your plant full, and a new branch will appear.