Basil is an aromatic plant from Asian countries, brought to Europe by the Greeks and later by the Romans. The name derives from the Greek basilikon, which can be translated as “royal plant” or “king’s herb”, probably because it was used to produce the scents for the sovereigns by Hindu populations, or simply because of the importance it was given to.
Superstitions linked to basil
Since ancient times, basil has been the center of many beliefs and rituals. For the Gauls, this was a sacred plant and only those who had performed a special purification ritual could collect the leaves; the Egyptians used it to produce the balm for embalming and, for the Romans, it had healing and aphrodisiac properties. Even in India there are particular beliefs related to basil: for example, it is thought that keeping a sprig of basil to the neck would keep the lightnìing away.
Basil on pizza
Beyond superstitions, basil is now a fundamental component of our cuisine, used to garnish and flavor various foods.
As everyone knows, basil is one of the main ingredients of the pizza margherita, in which – together with tomato and mozzarella – creates a tribute to the Italian flag. Here, as in all the dishes in which it is used, this aromatic herb is added strictly at the end of cooking, because if cooked it loses all its aroma.