Colours and shapes
Basil comes from the Lamiaceae family, just like sage, thyme, mint, marjoram and rosemary. The leaves are unmistakeable: large, serrated, oval, pointed and bright green. The herb has a warm, fresh, strong fragrance, and if you're lucky, little white flowers will appear on your plant in summer. You will find the herb in many Italian dishes, from classic pesto to a colourful caprese salad, but it also tastes delicious with strawberries.
A native of South Asia, basil was brought to Europe from India and Persia in the 16th century. In addition to green basil, there is also red basil. Purple in colour, its taste is slightly stronger. Thai basil, a third variety, has an aniseed-like flavour.
Traditionally, Italian women would place a basil plant on the windowsill to indicate they were open to some male company.