Last autumn, my friend Maria Reyes conducted an Italian cooking class in her home. While she had planned for 3-4 people, only 1 (me) turned up in the end. I felt quite bad, as she still carried on with the class knowing I was her only 'student'. I'm really glad she did, though, because that gave me the opportunity to meet one really great lady. Maria makes her own food – and by that I mean she makes her own jams, yoghurts, cheeses and what have you's. She buys organic and uses only the healthiest ingredients for her family. She has a respect for her planet, and those who live in it. She is a calm soul, speaking softly and gently to her two gorgeous daughters. It's through her that I decided it wouldn't be that hard to provide healthier options for my family, and have fun doing it too.
At the end of the lesson, Maria gave me a packet of basil seeds and told me to plant it in April. And I did. I have an absolutely gorgeous, and I mean GOR-JEST crop on my balcony. It smells great (the bugs will attest to that!). It has wonderful peppery flavour, and just tearing them up into Maria's Pasta Primavera elevates the dish to a new level.
Maria will soon leave for a new posting in another part of the world. I have been fortunate to have met Maria, even if ever so briefly. Good luck and God Bless, Maria. The basil will always remind me of our friendship.