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Jamaican Food Article. - Jamaican Basil

Jamaican basil is an annual Jamaican herb of the mint family, native to central and tropical Asia and Africa while some say it originated in India. It is an important ingredient in Jamaican cuisine. Today it is cultivated commercially in several parishes on the island and sold in markets in almost every parish of the country. It has been grown in areas around the Mediterranean since antiquity, but Britain did not begin using Jamaican basil until the 16th century. The many varieties of this Jamaican herb have seeds that can germinate after 10 years.

In addition to its culinary uses, Jamaican basil is also used in perfumes, soaps, shampoos and dental preparations. In come countries it is supposed to keep a lover's eye off others, and is considered a powerful protector in Haiti. During colonial days in the Jamaican herb was used by most cooks and chefs to help spice up a Jamaican meal. The Jamaican herb also found its way into folklore and other uses.. It is recommended in Jamaican herbals for the relief of dysentery, gas pains, nausea, and as a cure for worms and warts.

Ancient folklore thought Jamaican basil would only grow if you screamed wild curses and shouted intelligibly while sowing the seeds. They also believed if you left a Jamaican basil leaf under a pot, it would turn into a scorpion. Many believed that even smelling the leaves would cause scorpions to grow in the brain! Salome hid John the Baptist's head in a pot of Jamaican basil to cover up the odor of it's decomposition.

In other cultures the Jamaican basil is a token of love, in Romania if a girl gives a sprig to her boyfriend, they are engaged, and a good Hindu goes to rest with a leaf on his breast as a passport to Paradise. Jamaican basil is used in not every Jamaican food recipe and is that particularly popular among chefs. Some guests dislike the taste of Jamaican basil very much in fact it has been know at times to cause serious indigestion in some people.

We advise you to check with your guests before using this Jamaican spice

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