Of Basil, Basil Emeritus and… Ming the Merciless – UPDATED with VIDEO

On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross there is, especially in the East, tradition of blessing the herb aromatic basil. Basil, or Ocimum basilicum, is named from the Greek for “king, kingly”.

May I suggest for supper tonight pasta with basil pesto?  You can make it yourself, fresh if you have lots of basil leaves of you can simply buy some, if Biden’s hugely successful inflation reduction plan hasn’t left you penurious.  Pasta and basil pesto with a crisp Sauvignon blanc or Sancerre.

Long time readers here may remember Basil, later, after about 2013, Basil Emeritus.  (Don’t make pesto from Basil Emeritus.)

The original.

The fellow who made that wonderful widget redid it with two denizens.  We might call them Basil Emeritus and Ming the Merciless.   They don’t seem to be in conflict, but who knows what goes on when we are not watching.  There seems to be real competition for the wheel.   Heavens… what a metaphor.


A few of you complained that I didn’t give a recipe or demonstration of making pesto.

Let’s keep this simple.

A few handfuls of basil leaves, the younger the better.
Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Sardo, grated.  Or just a lot of Parmigiano.
Cloves of garlic, hopefully not the weak-ass stuff you get in these USA
Pine nuts.. you can, or not, toast them.
Olive oil.

Method 1: Put them into a processor and proceed.

Method 2: Put them into a large mortar and grind them together with a pestle (“pestare” means “crush”).

The traditional way takes elbow grease and patience.

The following video is from my time in Genoa last May.  A group of us – a pro-life organization – were in Genoa and went to a restaurant where they engaged some of us to make the pesto.   This is the place where pesto is the real thing.   The video here is an abbreviated clip I worked up, condensed from about ten minutes.   So, while you make your pesto, and you take turns, get out a Rosary and trade off saying decades while working.  And say one for me and one for the defense of innocent human life.


And pesto sorbet.

And, just for nice, a shot of the tomb of the late, great Cardinal Siri.

You know… I have lots of ROME shots… but I also have lots of NOT ROME shots…

For example…

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. maternalView says:

    Making Italian food is such a happy thing to do!

  2. kurtmasur says:

    Indeed Cardinal Siri was a great cardinal, and maybe even a legitimate pope. [No.]

  3. Gabriel Syme says:

    Great pics Father Z, thank you for sharing.

    We went to Italy on our Honeymoon, 10 years ago. I would love to return. The highlight was attending a Papal Audience with Benedict XVI, formally as newlyweds. (It was the second time I was in Benedict’s presence, the first being in Glasgow during his visit to the UK in 2010. I miss him!)

    It was a fine day and St Peters Square was bursting full that day. No need for the media cameras to use extreme close-ups, to hide the fact no one is there, as happens today.

    Is the night time non-Rome picture above Sorrento, at a (wild) guess? [Nope, other direction! But Sorrento is great.]

    Sorrento was the first stop on our Honeymoon, followed by Rome and then Venice. Great days!

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