Italiano Classico Basil
Genovese Basil is perhaps the most famous sweet basil variety in the world. Known for its use in pesto, the best Genovese Basil is said to be grown in western Genoa, Italy. So, why is Genovese Basil so special? Its round leaves are dark green and appear more matte than those of its shinier cousin, Common Basil. The taste is also more ‘matte’, if that makes sense – the basil flavour is more concentrated and is somehow less sweet. What is certain is that Genoese people take their beloved baxaicò (as they call it) and their pesto very seriously; Genovese Basil has even gained DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) status from the Italian Government.
Gigante D'Italia Parsley
Parsley Gigante d’Italia is a deep green, broad-leaved plant, with strong stalks, a fresh, slightly spicy aroma and a tangy-sweet flavour. Also known as Sellerina, because its long stalks can also be eaten like celery, parsley is a particularly high yielding variety that is well suited to autumn cultivation due to its resistance to the cold. Although parsley is a favourite of chefs worldwide, it has often been associated with death and evil. According to Greek mythology, the plant sprouted from the blood of the infant prince Archemorus, who was killed by a serpent. Later on, it became associated with Satan—since parsley seeds have a slow germination rate, the popular belief was that the seeds had to travel to hell and back many times before they could germinate.
Thyme De Provence
Thyme De Provence, or ‘Summer Thyme’, is a popular perennial herb that is well known for its culinary, medicinal and ornamental uses. With its tiny, soft, grey-green leaves and small, pinkish flowers, Thyme de Provence is spicier than common thyme and is the preferred option in authentic French cuisine. In fact, it is the leading component in the famous Herbes de Provence dried-herb mix, as well as in the Bouquet garni – a bundle of string-tied herbs used to flavour soups and stews. Thyme can be found beyond the library’s ‘cookery’ section, though; it has long been a key ingredient in folk medicine and is listed frequently in spell handbooks. Historically, it’s had a major role in vision-inducing love potions, fairy-producing unguents and, as the botanist Nicholas Culpeper recommended, nightmare remedies.
Greek Oregano (Origanum vulgare var. hirtum) is a subspecies of common oregano, with a much stronger flavour and fragrance. Graced with beautiful white flowers, Greek Oregano is said to have been invented by the Grecian goddess of love, Aphrodite herself! This myth led to the Greek tradition of crowning newly married couples with wreaths of the herb. The term ‘oregano’ can be translated loosely from Greek as ‘joy of the mountains’, a fitting name for a plant found in the naturally rocky habitat of its homeland. Over the centuries, culinary and medicinal uses of oregano spread from Europe to China via the ‘spice road’, before reaching the New World thanks to the American soldiers who discovered it during the Italian Campaign.