Well, this post isn’t about Mr Fawlty, actually, but the garden herb. Having said that, I find that the plant, basil, has just as much determined awkwardness to it as Sybil’s husband and nemesis. I like it to cook with, to add to a salad and eat in a cheese sandwich. However I appear doomed to failure in its cultivation.

After a few years of trying, I have conceded that growing it from seed doesn’t seem to work well for me, so I bought a basil plant at a slighly fancy supermarket a couple of weeks ago, thinking it might last me the summer.  Little did I know…

As soon as I picked a few of the new leaves off to add to a mozarella and tomato filo pastry tart, it dug in its heels. No matter how I tended its every whim, made sure it was warm enough and had been watered correctly, it continued to feel sorry for itself. The leaves turned brown, little by little. The stalks began to wilt. I had only picked about 5 leaves of a herb that was expressly sold for culinary use! Just like every other time I have had a basil plant in my possession, as soon as I picked its leaves, it felt that its time was up.

This time I decided to make the most of a bad job and picked all of the rest of the leaves from the ailing plant. I fetched the board and mezzaluna and chopped them to bits. Adding them to a glass bottle, I poured over some olive oil, shook it up and left it to settle.

The basil oil will be ready to use in two or three weeks and really will last me all summer long. Pastas and salads galore.

I can’t wait.

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