Like Sarah Jessica Parker’s cringe-worthy character, Meredith, in The Family Stone, please allow me to fly my “freak flag” for a moment: Recently my friend Anna took me out on a post birthday date to the MFA followed by tapas and sangria at Tapeo. Surprisingly the highlight of our outing wasn’t the fabulous sangria or the entire plate of meat and cheese that I guiltily chased it with, but a painting. The painting actually caught my eye as soon as I entered the gallery it solemnly hung in. It was dark, and dreary, and very creepy, but like those late night airings of Poltergeist and The Ring almost impossible to look away from. I love scary movies. I really do, and I watch them religiously from behind the safety of the palms of my hands while I cower and shake.
Isabella and the Pot of Basil is the title of the painting. It was composed by John White Alexander who based his portrait on an earlier work done by William Holman Hunt. Each depicts a scene from John Keats’s poem Isabella, or the Pot of Basil. In the poem, Isabelle’s brothers murder her lover Lorenzo. Lorenzo’s ghost comes to Isabelle in the night and tells her what her evil siblings have been up to, so she digs up his grave, removes his head, and plants it in a pot of basil. Now that’s what I call commitment. The painting is downright melancholy and the story behind it so tragic and dare I say romantic, that Anna and I both made a beeline straight for the gift shop and scoured the shelves until I found a postcard printed with the image. Eureka! The freaky basil painting was mine.
Last weekend I planted a small herb garden in a window box on my balcony. Now every time I look at that towering green basil blowing in the breeze I think of Isabella. And now so can you…aren’t you happy I told you about it? Be on the look out for herbtastic filled recipes in the weeks ahead, and I can assure you that CK’s head will not be coming in contact with any Miracle-Gro like substances at any point in the future. As long as he keeps doing those dishes of course. On that note, what’s your favorite non pesto basil recipe? Let me know in the comments.