Basil, in one of the old herbals, is suggested as an original way of dieting. Put a sprig under the plate and whoever sits there won't be able to touch a mouthful. I'm not sure I believe this; it doesn't fit with the fact that the favourite sausages of medieval Londoners were generously spiced with basil.
Moldavian girls were hopeful, however, in believing that any young man to whom they gave a sprig would fall in love with them. Tudor housewives handed out whole pots of basil to visitors without, so far as I know, inspiring anything more than gratitude.
Living in Corfu, I never did anything to help basil grow - planted in a pot on the terrace, it rampaged. No chance of that here, but I do have a tip: keep pinching out new leaves when they form on the stem between two larger ones. The result, with not much water and all the light you can offer, should be as tall as a shortish Indian nymph...
My favourite basil recipe is made with pasta. Fry at least two cloves of garlic, a tin or two of tomatoes and a handful of chopped fresh basil. Drain the pasta, add balsamic vinegar to taste, stir in a second handful of basil, add the tomato mixture and sprinkle with grated pecorino: it's gorgeous.Reuse content