Garden of aromatic plants
Photos Credit: Salagon Museum
Translator: Jean-Marc Bulit
An aromatic plant native to India, Ocimum basilicum was already known by the Romans (a recipe for peas by Apicius, uses some: LV - III.1). As with many aromatic plants, basil was of little use in medieval recipes (a time when spices were liked more), but it is found in a recipe of the Liber de Coquina (II-65).
Basil is associated with the Italian pesto and the pistou from Provence nowadays. The first written recipe for pesto alla genovese goes back to 1863. The provencal pistou soup, with tomatoes and potatoes, is a recent invention, not yet found in the recipe books of the beginning of the 20th century.