In 1995 I read in a magazine that you should never consider the birth and raising of a child if you are incapable of cultivating and maintaining the life of a plant. This seems like a solid proposition to me.
Although it was Cosmopolitan magazine and I did at the time question the topical expertise of "How To..." girls musing on the credentials of parenthood or horticulture, I have utilised this statement as a shield to the numerous grandchildren themed conversation segues attempted by my parents over the years.
"Did you know David's daughter Lindy, well she and her husband, Michael, they are expecting their..."
"Mum, I killed my Ficas"
"and Susan, since her daughter Andrea had..."
"Actually Mum, I've been meaning to tell you, the Pilodendron, I dropped him."
You can imagine then the risk I take in writing this post about my only and greatest herbaceous achievement. Mr Basil.
Mr Basil's early days were fairly standard as basil plants go, spending his formative years in the fresh greens isle of Waitrose. It was here that I found him, middle of the pack, one Saturday afternoon. I wrapped him up, bought him home and sat him in the window of our kitchen (which receives about as constant a flood of sunlight as any window in London ever could). Then I stared at him. He didn't do anything. It's similar to the anti-climax you may confront by when visiting a friends new born for the first time. Little Benjamin looks cute, healthy, but he doesn't really do anything...then he does do something and you remember you really needed to be somewhere else. Fast. Apologies to any friends with children reading this, I'm not referring to your baby, he's different, of course.
|One of Mr Basil's more classic accomplishments: |
Lemon, hazelnut and basil pesto with roasted chicken and fresh goats cheese.
People come from all over the neighbourhood to see him, touch him, marvel in his shadow. Lesser herb growers bring their failing crops from across town just to sit them close to Mr Basil in the hope they too will be inspired to greatness. A Televangalism scout noticed him on the street the other day and left me his business card. He thinks Mr Basil has great potential and charisma and could be a true healing saviour to other plant. The Amazon really needs him.
|I'm encouraging him to learn another language, but Italian just comes naturally.|
Pasta, wild mushroom duxelle, rocket, walnuts, poached egg, torn basil and a dash of truffle oil.
So there you have him. Mr Basil. But just in case you're wondering Mum and Dad, he could die any day now, don't get too excited.