The Literate Chef

The Last of the Basil

In General Articles on October 23, 2011 at 6:05 PM

As summer winds down into the first full month of autumn, the last of the basil has been picked. The memory of summer has long since faded as the leaves begin their whirling descent to blanket the lawn with brown, red and gold. While the outside air smells of autumn, the kitchen air is redolent with the vestiges of summer, freshly picked basil.

The aroma of basil has always meant summer to me; summer on the Jersey Shore, and summer vacations on Cape Cod, where our first stop was to see Uncle Fred and Aunt Jo. On those latter occasions, not only did Fred provide us with our first night’s dinner, but also with a basil plant that he had carefully tended, and which lasted for the entire month of our vacation.

So with October in the wind a few weeks ago, we picked the leaves from the last of our basil plants and decided to extend summer for a few weeks more by making pesto with a recipe from Uncle Fred. For a brief history of pesto and its ancient method of preparation, before the invention of blenders and food processors, check out the article in this link to the foods of Liguria. Liguria is one of the western-most regions of Italy, it borders on the French Riviera and encompasses Genoa, San Remo, Portofino, and Cinque Terre.

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