Italian food typically uses sweet basil, while Thai basil is generally preferred in preparing Thai food.
The blight affecting Italian and Thai food is the dangerous basil downy mildew disease, which has recently developed an outbreak in the United States, including some eastern states, such as New Jersey, and New York, as well as, the southern state of Florida.
What does the basil downy mildew disease look like? The first evidence of this blight occurs when the top of the leaf starts to turn yellow. Underneath the basil leaves, the spores appear darker in color, to almost black, showing the growth and spread of this disease on the basil plant.
Basil downy mildew can quickly spread to other plants when the wind picks the spores up dispersing the spore particles through the air. This scenario is especially frightening to those gardeners and restaurants, which rely heavily on basil for their food preparation, particularly in their pesto sauce.
Italian pesto sauce is traditionally made with fresh basil as the key ingredient, along with extra virgin olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and pine nuts. Traditional pesto sauce is mainly green, although a red pesto sauce, using sun-dried tomatoes is another variety that has increased in popularity.
The basil downy mildew blight greatly impacts the preparation of Thai food, since Thai cuisine is known primarily for using fresh basil, rather than dried herbs as their main ingredient.
Thai red and green curries, soups, and salads all rely on large quantities of fresh Thai basil for their recipes. Thai food attributes the unusual basil flavor in many of their dishes to Thai basil, which resembles sweet basil in appearance, but has a distinct anise flavor.
Since many of the authentic Italian cuisine and signature Thai dishes rely on fresh basil as a primary ingredient in their recipes, the basil downy mildew disease could have a negative effect on the overall preparation and service of these dishes.
This plant blight can affect both professionally prepared food, and food people enjoy making themselves at home. Fresh basil is almost always preferred, in lieu of dried herbs, for a richer and better tasting quality of seasoning.
If the basil downy mildew becomes widespread many people will feel the repercussions in terms of food preparation. If a shortage of basil threatens the local grocery store, changes will have to be made in substituting the fresh basil , for a dried version of the herb, changing the preferred taste and quality of many authentic Italian and Thai cuisine choices.
Some people have even chosen to harvest all of their basil and make pesto ahead of time, then freeze it, to avoid losing their entire fresh basil crop. Avid pesto fans don’t want to lose their key ingredient of using fresh basil in their sauce, or those individuals who prefer sprinkling fresh basil on the top of their favorite Italian or Thai dishes.
Basil downy mildew can threaten the fresh basil crop if this blight continues to grow, affecting many authentic Italian and Thai food cuisines that depend on using fresh basil.