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Basil. Yes! No! Why?

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Basil. Yes! No! Why?
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AndiferousUser avatarPosts: 2727Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:00 amLocation: Laputa Gender: Time Lord

Post Basil. Yes! No! Why?

This is a debate between Prolescum and Inferno on the existential properties of BASIL in postmodern society. Recipes and pictures of food are forbidden within this debate. Actually, maybe we shouldn't let them have pictures at all. This thread is limited to twenty posts of length to be determined whimsically sometime later. The debaters may or may not include the edible nature of basil and its classification in the family of herbivorous basilous insidivs.

There is a discussion thread here. Both debaters are forbidden from laying one pixel within this discussion link or bad things shall ensue. May the one who sounds the best win.

Have fun!
"As there seemed no measure between what Watt could understand, and what he could not, so there seemed none between what he deemed certain, and what he deemed doubtful."
~ Samuel Beckett, Watt
Sun Nov 28, 2010 6:03 pm
ProlescumWebhamsterUser avatarPosts: 4980Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 8:41 pmLocation: Peptone-upon-Sores

Post Re: Basil. Yes! No! Why?

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, my honourable opponent , our moderator, and the random lurkers.

For your delectation, I will be arguing not just the exquisite taste of the most luscious of lamiaceaen leaf, the pleasingly pungent aromas of this perrenial plant, or its intrinsic superiority over its nearest competitors (Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme), but will endeavour to include instances of basil's importance beyond its culinary splendour.

For example, historically, tulsi (the holy basil) has been coveted for both its practical properties (including as a mosquito repellent*), as well as its quasi-divine nature. It is my contention that basil (named as it is from the Greek basileus - βασιλεύς, the leader or chieftan) was and truly still is, l'herbe royale.




*In a letter written to 'The Times,' London, dated May 2, 1903 Dr George Birdwood, Professor of Anatomy, Grant Medical College, Mumbai said, "When the Victoria Gardens were established in Bombay, the men employed on those works were pestered by mosquitoes. At the recommendation of the Hindu managers, the whole boundary of the gardens was planted with holy basil, on which the plague of mosquitoes was at once abated, and fever altogether disappeared from among the resident gardeners."
if constructive debate is allowed to progress, better ideas will ultimately supplant worse ideas.

Comment is free, but facts are sacred
Mon Nov 29, 2010 1:28 am
InfernoContributorUser avatarPosts: 2298Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:36 pmLocation: Vienna, Austria Gender: Cake

Post Re: Basil. Yes! No! Why?

Ladies and Gentlemen of the audience, dear moderator.
*Bows to opponent*

I will be starting off my reply by explaining my own position; I am taking the side against Basil.

How do we assess how important a herb is? I think that this will be the most difficult part of the debate, because you could just say "I like the taste" and you've established an unassailable "argument". It's not an argument, of course, but there's no way to sway an opinion either. It is also nearly impossible to count the amount of times "basil" or "rosemary" or "thyme" are mentioned in cookery books, for obvious reasons.
I will therefore focus on three main points:
1) The usage of herbs in the kitchen.
2) The usage of herbs in popular culture.
3) General information about herbs.

Being the mean, mean person that my opponent is, he's already taken the wind out of my joke, but I'll still go through with it.
Scarborough Fair wrote: Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,
Remember me to one who lives there,
She once was a true love of mine.


No mention of Basil, is there? ;)
Let's start off properly with herbs in the kitchen. I'm not exactly herbophile (Someone who loves herbs) but I do use them often enough. But as I've stated, there's no use in talking about my personal preferences, so I'll let a REAL herbophile speak for me:

Jamie Oliver - The Naked Chef wrote:(rough translation from the German book "Kochen mit Jamie Oliver") (In the chapter "Herbs and Spices" he starts off by mentioning the following) You should definitely plant Rosemary, Thyme, Salvia (Edit mine: Not to be mistaken with saliva. Also known under the name ) and Bay.


It's interesting to note that he mentions three of the four herbs from Scarborough fair as being the most important ones in a kitchen. And where does he mention Basil? Number eight. Now obviously the position on the list in this one book has little to say on the whole issue. Therefore, let us consider a quote from another one of his books, namely "Cook with Jamie" or the German title "Besser kochen mit Jamie". Here, Basil is 7th on the list, yet 1st of a subset of herbs.
The two subsets are "robust herbs" and "delicate herbs", Basil being in the "delicate" category. Here's what Jamie says about delicate herbs:
Jamie Oliver - Cook with Jamie wrote:Delicate herbs are not as aromatic as robust ones; you can eat them raw in salads, scattered over warm foods or mixed in with them. Dried, they have no taste so make sure to keep them fresh.


"Dried, they have no taste..."
How can one argue for a herb if one it lacks an essential and rather fundamental property, namely being tasty after having been dried? Of what use would basil be in for example a survival situation? Well thank you very much, I'd rather have a robust herb, that according to Jamie:
Jamie Oliver - Cook with Jamie wrote:(...) can be eaten both fresh and dried.


But once again, that's only the preferences of one person. It will be really hard to show that any one herb is better than another, but at least I don't have to limit myself, I've got a small advantage here. I will therefore not choose Parsley, Sage, Rosemary nor Thyme but rather Bay as my first herb.

Bay is classed as a robust herb by Jamie Oliver and it ranks #1 on his list. This obviously has nothing to say about how good it is, but it's an indicator.
So let's explore its uses.
In the kitchen, it can be used for almost anything to do with meat, as well as most vegetarian (warm) dishes. It can be scattered to repel moths and Romanies would put it under their pillows on valentines day to dream of their loved one. (This is obviously superstition, but it goes to show what powers people attributed to it.) In primitive medicine, they can be used as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal as well as being used for a variety of illnesses.
But let's not forget the most important uses of them all:
Image
"Sometimes people don't want to hear the truth because they don't want their illusions destroyed." ― Friedrich Nietzsche

"I shall achieve my objectives through the power... of Science!" --LessWrong
Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:54 pm
ProlescumWebhamsterUser avatarPosts: 4980Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 8:41 pmLocation: Peptone-upon-Sores

Post Re: Basil. Yes! No! Why?

Ladies and gentlemen, my respected opponent would have you believe that because Scarborough fair omits basil from its list of herbs, it somehow strengthens his stance against the historical case for our aforementioned holy basil.

inferno wrote:Being the mean, mean person that my opponent is, he's already taken the wind out of my joke, but I'll still go through with it.
Scarborough Fair wrote:
Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,
Remember me to one who lives there,
She once was a true love of mine.


No mention of Basil, is there?


Were he to look at the origins of one of the recent refrains from the song, (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme) he would have noted that it in fact dates back only to the 19th century and the popular Simon and Garfunkel version dates only to the mid 20th century (Gordon Heath & Lee Payant 1954). Furthermore, in context, the song's protagonist is in fact listing impossible things his ex-lover must do to rekindle their relationship and the addition of these herbs is little more than syllabic gobbledegook. Were any of this admissable, I would submit this song* I spent ten minutes writing as evidence.

*right-click and save file

inferno wrote:[...] as I've stated, there's no use in talking about my personal preferences, so I'll let a REAL herbophile speak for me:

Jamie Oliver - The Naked Chef wrote:
(rough translation from the German book "Kochen mit Jamie Oliver") (In the chapter "Herbs and Spices" he starts off by mentioning the following) You should definitely plant Rosemary, Thyme, Salvia (Edit mine: Not to be mistaken with saliva. Also known under the name ) and Bay.


It's interesting to note that he mentions three of the four herbs from Scarborough fair as being the most important ones in a kitchen.


My honourable opponent wishes to invoke some sort of synchronicity and give it a position on our table, ladies and gentlemen. These three or four herbs are also found in four thieves vinegar.

inferno wrote:And where does he mention Basil? Number eight. Now obviously the position on the list in this one book has little to say on the whole issue.


Agreed

inferno wrote:Therefore, let us consider a quote from another one of his books, namely "Cook with Jamie" or the German title "Besser kochen mit Jamie". Here, Basil is 7th on the list, yet 1st of a subset of herbs.
The two subsets are "robust herbs" and "delicate herbs", Basil being in the "delicate" category.


Having concurred with Mr Oliver's distinctions using masculine/feminine adjectives, my learned opponent continues:

inferno wrote:Here's what Jamie says about delicate herbs:
Jamie Oliver - Cook with Jamie wrote:
Delicate herbs are not as aromatic as robust ones; you can eat them raw in salads, scattered over warm foods or mixed in with them. Dried, they have no taste so make sure to keep them fresh.


It is well known that there are two general subsets of herbs. However, a rather more neutral description of the types can be found here :

the culinary herb wrote:A mild herb is an herb that mixes well with other herbs, compliment each other or when cooked becomes milder. [...] A full-bodied herb is rich in flavor and is often used alone or mixed with only a few other herbs and will slightly change in flavor when cooked.


We can see here that the characteristics of mild herbs (of which basil is a member) allow them to compliment others and to be eaten in their raw form, not something a decent man would categorise as inferior, as Mr Oliver and my esteemed opponent attempts to do above. The suggestion that being 'robust' somehow makes a herb more aromatic displays Mr Oliver's idiosyncratic distortion of English to tarnish the perceived quality of mild herbs for his own wide-boy agenda. And as we'll see below, he's also not entirely correct...

inferno wrote:"Dried, they have no taste..."
How can one argue for a herb if one it lacks an essential and rather fundamental property, namely being tasty after having been dried?


If this were truly the case, I would concede this point, however, Schwartz, in their booklet, 'Cooking with herbs and spices' (Marshall Cavendish Books Ltd - in conjunction with the National Spice Information Bureau), say:

Schwartz wrote:Even the highest quality herbs and spices can lose their pungency and strength over a long period, even when kept, as Schwartz products are, in airtight glass jars


and although I grow fresh (sweet) basil myself, the dried variety I use in the winter does retain both flavour and scent. One suspects Jamie Oliver has little experience of dried herbs, being a television chef, and his authority in this instance is suspect.

inferno wrote:Of what use would basil be in for example a survival situation? Well thank you very much, I'd rather have a robust herb, that according to Jamie:
Jamie Oliver - Cook with Jamie wrote:
(...) can be eaten both fresh and dried.


Basil can and indeed is eaten both fresh and dried, and may even serve us well as a zombie* repellant should the need arise.

*Zombies, along with vampires, share attributes with the mosquito.

inferno wrote:Bay is classed as a robust herb by Jamie Oliver and it ranks #1 on his list. This obviously has nothing to say about how good it is, but it's an indicator.
So let's explore its uses.
In the kitchen, it can be used for almost anything to do with meat, as well as most vegetarian (warm) dishes. It can be scattered to repel moths and Romanies would put it under their pillows on valentines day to dream of their loved one. (This is obviously superstition, but it goes to show what powers people attributed to it.) In primitive medicine, they can be used as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal as well as being used for a variety of illnesses.


Although many suggest using bay for anything to do with meat, bay is the tiananmen tank when compared with basil's Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso; where basil adds nuance and distinction to a meal, bay adds an overpowering scent of foreboding, a deep wallowing odour of remorse and around an ounce of self-pitying bitterness to the tongue.

As previously explained, basil (or in this case Tulsi, the incomparable one) has a cultural significance with deeper roots than many of the lesser herbs, for instance, it is mentioned in the Charaka Samhita (which was considered an indespensable source of medical understanding), is to this day worshiped throughout India, and has been used for thousands of years as a remedy for the common cold, headaches, stomach disorders, inflammation, heart disease, various forms of poisoning, and malaria. There is also a relatively recent study showing that it could be an effective treatment for diabetes (Effect of Ocimum sanctum Leaf Powder on Blood Lipoproteins, Glycated Proteins and Total Amino Acids in Patients with Non-insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus. Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine. V. RAI MSC, U. V. MANI MSC PHD FICN AND U. M. IYER MSC PHD. Volume 7, Number 2 / June 1, 1997. p. 113 - 118).

Its dried leaves, much to the disappointment of Jamie Oliver I'm sure, were also mixed with stored grains to ward off insects.
if constructive debate is allowed to progress, better ideas will ultimately supplant worse ideas.

Comment is free, but facts are sacred
Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:28 am
AndiferousUser avatarPosts: 2727Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:00 amLocation: Laputa Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Basil. Yes! No! Why?

MOD NOTE:

As we have not yet approved the use of mp3 files in this debate format, I suggest you both take a quick yea-nay vote on this issue, or I will be forced to take punitive actions. Alternatively, you could suggest another way in which to review the lyrics, sound quality, key and melodic tone in addition to its relevance to the given topic, as well as highlighting the ways in which it could have possible relevance, or even hint at ways it could be evaluated to give any relevance, and grade it accordingly?

/MOD NOTE
"As there seemed no measure between what Watt could understand, and what he could not, so there seemed none between what he deemed certain, and what he deemed doubtful."
~ Samuel Beckett, Watt
Thu Dec 02, 2010 7:11 am
ProlescumWebhamsterUser avatarPosts: 4980Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 8:41 pmLocation: Peptone-upon-Sores

Post Re: Basil. Yes! No! Why?

Respected Moderator wrote:MOD NOTE


Prolescum wrote:Were any of this admissable,


Which it isn't, in my view

Prolescum wrote:I would submit this song* I spent ten minutes writing as evidence.


Which I haven't. I was making a point about the relevance Scarborough fair... :lol:

Also, my valued opponent is somewhat under the weather currently, so I would like to take this moment to wish him a speedy recuperation, and expect ample retort come his recovery.
if constructive debate is allowed to progress, better ideas will ultimately supplant worse ideas.

Comment is free, but facts are sacred
Thu Dec 02, 2010 1:37 pm
AndiferousUser avatarPosts: 2727Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:00 amLocation: Laputa Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Basil. Yes! No! Why?

I see now. Perhaps to be fair we should extend an invitation to Inferno to make an mp3 of Scarborough Fair.

EDIT: Wait a moment! I saw a picture! Although arguably it was only an Asterix. Please be careful, Inferno, I specified no images at the top, and I'd hate to think you didn't read my preamble. Oh, and get well soon. :)
"As there seemed no measure between what Watt could understand, and what he could not, so there seemed none between what he deemed certain, and what he deemed doubtful."
~ Samuel Beckett, Watt
Sat Dec 04, 2010 6:32 am
InfernoContributorUser avatarPosts: 2298Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:36 pmLocation: Vienna, Austria Gender: Cake

Post Re: Basil. Yes! No! Why?

Well I'm still not quite well yet (it's been over a week!) but I felt ashamed at not having replied here yet, even though I have already left one or two comments on other threads. I would like to apologize for this! :(

I don't really care about the music in Scarborough Fair, I only wanted to make a point to which I will be getting to in my rebuttal. Andiferous, my apologies for the picture, I thought it meant "pictures of food".

Now, Into Battle! (Yes, I'm feeling like making song references. ;))

Ladies and gentlemen, my respected opponent would have you believe that because Scarborough fair omits basil from its list of herbs, it somehow strengthens his stance against the historical case for our aforementioned holy basil.


And I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen, that my valued opponent is trying to intentionally misunderstand my case. I merely used Scarborough Fair as an example that
1) Herbs are used in popular culture.
2) Basil specifically is not mentioned in any songs that I would be aware of.
3) If the reason for 2) is because Basil rhymes badly, then how can you claim that Basil is somehow superior to other Herbs?
I've used three sites to find rhymes to the word Basil and even though the sites (Rhymezone.com, rhymes.lexemic.com and rhymer.com) come up with a few words, none of them actually rhyme when spoken.

I also couldn't understand the lyrics of your song (regrettably, the music was quite pleasant) so if you could please PM me the lyrics, I would be most grateful.

We can see here that the characteristics of mild herbs (of which basil is a member) allow them to compliment others and to be eaten in their raw form, not something a decent man would categorise as inferior, as Mr Oliver and my esteemed opponent attempts to do above.


Oh no you don't! *Wags finger*
Mr Oliver clearly explains what uses they have and what they are not useful for. Mr Oliver does not treat them as somehow "inferior" but merely as "not useful for such and such task, while being useful for this task".

If this were truly the case, I would concede this point, however, Schwartz, in their booklet, 'Cooking with herbs and spices' (Marshall Cavendish Books Ltd - in conjunction with the National Spice Information Bureau), say:


First of all, Schwartz is trying to advertise their products, while Mr Oliver is fighting only against his taste. On a reliability scale, I would class Schwartz as a 4, Mr Oliver as a 6. When it comes to taste, nobody is reliable. (As I have explained in my opening.) To take what Schwartz says for granted however would be a very dangerous step.

Secondly, Schwartz does not say how long "a long period" of time is. Well of course all Herbs (dried or not) will lose their strength, they're no ingredients of magic sandwiches after all.

One suspects Jamie Oliver has little experience of dried herbs, being a television chef, and his authority in this instance is suspect.


It is true that he much prefers the fresh variety, but then again who wouldn't, given the choice?

Although many suggest using bay for anything to do with meat, bay is the tiananmen tank when compared with basil's Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso; where basil adds nuance and distinction to a meal, bay adds an overpowering scent of foreboding, a deep wallowing odour of remorse and around an ounce of self-pitying bitterness to the tongue.


This... I... How... You...
Well either you have a very specialized taste or you've never had a meal with bay, otherwise I can't comprehend this claim.
We're not allowed to link to recipes, so I'll only go so far as to explain that some recipes use bay with the very delicate prawns. (Oh I wish it were summer, I want those again. :cry: )
Needless to say, that "overpowering scent of foreboding, a deep wallowing odour of remorse and around an ounce of self-pitying bitterness to the tongue" is better explained as a brilliant addition to the already existing flavors.

As previously explained, basil (or in this case Tulsi, the incomparable one) has a cultural significance with deeper roots than many of the lesser herbs, for instance, it is mentioned in the Charaka Samhita (which was considered an indespensable source of medical understanding), is to this day worshiped throughout India, and has been used for thousands of years as a remedy for the common cold, headaches, stomach disorders, inflammation, heart disease, various forms of poisoning, and malaria. There is also a relatively recent study showing that it could be an effective treatment for diabetes (Effect of Ocimum sanctum Leaf Powder on Blood Lipoproteins, Glycated Proteins and Total Amino Acids in Patients with Non-insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus. Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine. V. RAI MSC, U. V. MANI MSC PHD FICN AND U. M. IYER MSC PHD. Volume 7, Number 2 / June 1, 1997. p. 113 - 118).


Well again, of course Basil has its uses, nobody would deny that. But to take it too far isn't anything proper either.
That being said, I can't find a mention of Basil/Tulsi in the Charaka Samhita, the online copy Wikipedia links to doesn't work too well.

Now, before I go any further, I would like to ask you, dearest opponent, the following: How can we know when a Herb is truly better than another? I've tried to address the issue in my opening post, but I couldn't come to a satisfying conclusion. There is no way to say that one shouldn't use Herb X, because they all fulfill a different purpose. For example, I wouldn't dream of having Mozzarella and Tomatoes without Basil, yet I would equally not dream of having the above mentioned prawns without bay. They are not substitutes for one another, as we surely agree.

Now, onwards.
The next Herb I would like to introduce is a personal favorite of mine: Rosemary
A personal anecdote to set the mood. Imagine a sunny afternoon in Croatia, a soft breeze gently caressing you, the odor and sound of the sea washing up on the shore. In the background, your ship is anchored. You sit there with your family, preparing for a delicious BBQ. You're having beef, with a bunch of veggies. What better to flavor it with then Rosemary, a herb that is abundant there.

It not only complements the food

Wikipedia wrote:The fresh and dried leaves are used frequently in traditional Mediterranean cuisine; they have a bitter, astringent taste and are highly aromatic, which complements a wide variety of foods.


but is also extremely good for your health.

Wikipedia wrote:Rosemary is extremely high in iron, calcium, and Vitamin B6.

Rosemary extract has been shown to improve the shelf life and heat stability of omega-3 rich oils, which are prone to going rancid.


And that's not to speak of all the medical and potentially medical benefits it has.

And even though you dislike Mr Oliver so much, let us finish off with what he has to say about Rosemary:
Jamie Oliver wrote:Rosemary, a large bundle mit long twigs and leaves, which remind one of pine tree needles, is very popular in many European kitchens, especially useful for Lam, Beef, Bread and strong Mediterranean aromas, such as Garlic, Anchovies and Olives.


Great, now I'm hungry at 00:57 am, even though I've just had noodles with tomato sauce and Basil.
"Sometimes people don't want to hear the truth because they don't want their illusions destroyed." ― Friedrich Nietzsche

"I shall achieve my objectives through the power... of Science!" --LessWrong
Sat Dec 11, 2010 12:58 am
ProlescumWebhamsterUser avatarPosts: 4980Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 8:41 pmLocation: Peptone-upon-Sores

Post Re: Basil. Yes! No! Why?

I must apologise to my gracious opponent and our respectable moderator for my tardiness, I've been occupied this past couple of weeks. I will endeavour to respond in the near future. :D
if constructive debate is allowed to progress, better ideas will ultimately supplant worse ideas.

Comment is free, but facts are sacred
Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:42 am
InfernoContributorUser avatarPosts: 2298Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:36 pmLocation: Vienna, Austria Gender: Cake

Post Re: Basil. Yes! No! Why?

Ah, I doubt that it matters. Let's just drop it, we all know that Basil is shite. ;)
I'm still waiting for dotoree. :lol:
"Sometimes people don't want to hear the truth because they don't want their illusions destroyed." ― Friedrich Nietzsche

"I shall achieve my objectives through the power... of Science!" --LessWrong
Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:28 am
AndiferousUser avatarPosts: 2727Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:00 amLocation: Laputa Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Basil. Yes! No! Why?

+ 3 for Rosemary! Or, we will see, I might be joking.
"As there seemed no measure between what Watt could understand, and what he could not, so there seemed none between what he deemed certain, and what he deemed doubtful."
~ Samuel Beckett, Watt
Sun Jan 09, 2011 10:04 am
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