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August 12, 2010 at 11:19 AM

Basil’s sweet perfume: it hits me where I live

Forty-eight hours ago I was standing in my husband’s cousin’s garden near Chicago admiring her herbs and tomato plants. As I stood there “enjoying” the humidity and sweltering in the noonday sun, I thought about the state of my own garden (disastrous) and the fact that I’d just spent a week sleeping in an un-airconditioned apartment in the heat of a Chicago summer, so help me God.

Quietly chanting, “Aren’t you glad you use Dial? Don’t you wish everybody did?” I smiled broadly, knowing that in a very few hours, I’d be flying the not-so-friendly skies, heading home. Home! Where, according to the pilot who flew me there, “It’s 61 degrees in Seattle.” Home! Where my sunny kitchen awaits even when it’s foggy, perfumed by the sweet summer scent of fresh basil — courtesy of my good friend Trader Joe.

Wake up and smell the basil!

No offense to those of you who’ve found the time and the energy to fight the elements this summer and coddle your homegrown edibles outdoors, but I’ve long been a fan of TJ’s fresh basil plants, including the one you see above. It’s been on my kitchen counter providing me with fragrant herbs for months.

Way cheaper than Chanel No. 5 and a scent I much prefer.

I laugh each time I peruse the produce aisles at our neighborhood supermarkets, where skinny packets of “living basil,” roots intact, sell for $5 each, and where “fresh basil” — snipped who-knows-when — is available in a plastic clam-shell for not much less than that. Meanwhile, my $2.99 plant (snipped as contribution to a salad, a marinade, pizza, my favorite pasta recipe) is a gift that keeps on giving. And clearly I’m not the only one fond of TJ’s bargain-priced basil bonanza.

Snip, snip, says this guy, hoisting a basil-strewn pizza Margherita at the Saturday farmers market in Edmonds early this month. He’s with me, he said. When it comes to fresh basil, easy does it: You gotta love Trader Joe’s.

So, am I right or am I right? Is a $2.99 basil plant the steal of the century, or what?

Comments | More in Food products and kitchen gear, Gardening

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