Basil has been a controversial herb from ancient times. Both the origin of its name and its reason for being has been constantly disputed. The Greek basilikón means “kingly, ” while the Latin Ocimum may derive from the Greek language means the sense of being able to enjoy the fragrance. Because of the plant’s pungent aroma.
In the ancient times in Greece, it was believed that basil represented hate and misfortune. The Greeks called it the “devil plant,” but they also considered it a powerful love charm. A sign of mourning in ancient Greece and a sign of love in ancient Rome, today in Crete basil signifies “love washed with tears,” and in some parts of Italy, it remains a lover’s emblem.
Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) was a staple of the ancient Greek kitchen garden and many Greeks believed that it would not grow unless it was cursed and reviled when planted. Aristotle’s colleague Theophrastus disagreed, having observed the habits of herbs scientifically. Each of the kitchen herbs he studied flowered all at once, except basil, which produces a succession of flowers starting at the lower part of the plant.
He also observed that basil produces more seeds than do other herbs. Pliny in the first century reported the belief still accepted by many Romans that the more basil was abused, the more abundantly it grew, and that the best time for sowing was at the Feast of Paleson. At the rising of the Dog Star, he added, basil turns pale. The medicinal values of basil were also disputed in antiquity.
According to Pliny, the Greek botanist-physician Chrysippus condemned it, claiming that it injured stomach, liver, and eyes, and that it even caused madness, which explained why goats would not touch it. Also, other authorities believed that pounded basil placed under a stone would breed a scorpion.
Dioscorides and Pliny rescued basil. However, Dioscorides recommends it for intestinal worms, mad dog and viper bites, dandruff, and toothache; he also includes instructions for making an ointment of basil leaves pounded in oil. Pliny refutes the more exaggerated negatives and catalogs the herb’s benefits: Is Basil good for You?
Benefits of Basil Herb?
Mixed with a little vinegar, basil cures the sting of land and sea scorpions;
mixed with vinegar and inhaled it is good for fainting; as a linament with rose oil and vinegar it relieves fatigue, inflammation, and headache;
Also, mixed with goose grease, and particularly it is very good for babies’ ears; it is also an aphrodisiac. Apicius, rich gastronomy of Pliny’s time, is associated with the only known cookbooks from ancient Greece or Rome. In it is a recipe for fresh or dried peas seasoned with herbs and wine:
Cook peas and skim the broth. Add leeks, coriander, and cumin. Moreover, the pound pepper, lovage, dill, caraway, and fresh basil moisten with liquamen. Then you must blend the herbs additional liquamen and vinegar. Add to peas and taste, seasoning further if required.
Bring to a boil and serve. Liquamen may be approximated in the modern kitchen by boiling over high heat until reduced one-third: 1 ounce of anchovies in olive oil, 1-1/2 cups of water, and 1 teaspoon of orégano. Strain twice through a tea strainer and add 1 ounce of grape juice plus 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
A pungent annual related to mint, sweet basil is the most commonly grown basil to-day, although there are many others in cultivation. The stem is obtusely quadrangular. Leaves are long and pointed, rich green in color, paler green beneath, opposite, stalked, and softly smooth and cool to the touch. Therefore, the white flowers are in clusters along a spike terminating each leafy branch.
Flourishes best in a rich soil.
Furnishes an aromatic, volatile, camphoraceous oil.
Aromatic and carminative.
Reference: The Ancient Herbs by The J. Paul Getty Museum
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Originally posted 2019-11-22 22:33:37.