I can still smell the fresh basil my mother grew in our backyard, sweet and
pungent, with the flavor of mint. It will always represent the peak of summer in my family garden. Tomato plants, hot peppers, fig trees, squash blossoms, parsley and those beautiful grape vines we would sit beneath on those many warm afternoons sipping wine, sharing stories and eating well. My mother would put one basil leaf in each jar of homemade tomato sauce and her tomato salad was naked without it. She believed that the flavor of basil was best when used raw; tossed into pastas or salads at the last moment.
I once read that basil grew at the foot of the cross where Jesus was crucified. My mother never heard of such a thing, but she did tell me in that familiar frisky manner, that she was certain that basil was a male aphrodisiac.