Its name comes from the Greek word “basilikon” meaning “royal.” Many legends surround basil which was considered to be sacred. Gathering basil involved specific rituals preceded by purification. Egyptians used it with myrrh, incense, sage and thyme to embalm the dead and, in Rome, it was the symbol of lovers. Pliny prescribed it for epilepsy. It was also recommended for migraines brought on by poor digestion. Basil must never be allowed to simmer as its essence is very volatile. It must be added to dishes at the end of cooking. It is ideal with tomatoes and asparagus.
Le basilic peut remplacer le thym comme condiment. On l'ajoutera avec profit aux potages, salades, crudités qu'il aseptise. On connaît, par ailleurs, le canard au basilic et la soupe au pistou, l'une des plus renommées de la Provence.