Basil yesterday and today
Today, the aromatic spice plant basil is familiar to virtually everyone. However, most people only know of the traditional green variety available from supermarkets, Genovese basil. There are, however, over 150 different types, which in turn are divided into countless varieties. They can taste of cinnamon or aniseed, glow a dark purple or red colour, such as Dark Opal and Red Rubin, and even keep insects at bay. Botanists still disagree as to whether the plant originates from the family of labiates in India or from Africa, since two thirds of all species are endemic to this area.
The certainty is this: The name of the plant comes from the Greek and means 'royal medicinal plant'. Its healing effect is based on the high content of essential oils in its leaves, which have anti-inflammatory and appetite-inducing properties and can even alleviate a migraine. This herb, which settled in the Mediterranean region centuries ago, is actually a tropical plant. It has already been found as a burial offering in Egyptian pyramids and has been used by the Indians for 4,000 years. The Indians believed that basil was impregnated with divinity.