Ode to Basil

Published in Tiny Lights, February 2013

 Ode to Basil

You say basil, as in bad; I say basil, as in bake. Pronunciation differs, but the pleasure is shared. Grow it in a pot close to the kitchen window or the back door. A spray of water, a breeze off the canyon sends its basily fragrance into the house and alters the course of dinner.

Pasta! Let’s have pasta, with fresh tomatoes and handfuls of torn basil, garlic sautéed in olive oil and a splash of wine. Toss it with a half a lemon and scatter shavings of Pecorino Romano over the top.

Pizza! It’s Friday, and we always have pizza on Friday, takeout from Bronx or Arrivederci. I take my kitchen shears out back and cut off fresh new growth, tear the leaves over the cheesy, saucy, garlicky slice, the thin crust burnt just a little the way I like it.

Caprese salad to celebrate the first heirloom tomatoes of the season, Purple Cherokees or Brandywines, a fresh mozzarella or creamy decadent burrata from the cheese shop, the biggest tenderest leaves from the basil plant, the ones hiding from the bright sun. And the best olive oil, the darkest and nuttiest, the expensive stuff that you would never cook with.

A baguette, a bottle of Pinot Noir, and thou. My joy is complete, my cup overflows. And we haven’t even had pesto yet.