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Recipes from Paradise

By Fred Plotkin

Published 1997

  • About
Pesto, the bewitchingly perfumed green sauce that is ubiquitous in the cooking and the hearts of every Ligurian, is now a citizen of the world. I have seen it in Tokyo, in Buenos Aires, and all throughout Europe and North America. Yet nowhere does it taste better than in Liguria, where cooks still take extraordinary care in gathering the ingredients and in making the sauce.

There is no single, definitive preparation for pesto. It varies a bit from town to town in Liguria, just like a dialect. Even within a town there will be differences in how pesto is made. Every single pesto that you will ever taste is unique, because the ingredients used will differ as will the skill and preferences of the person making the sauce. Even if you were to give two cooks equal amounts of basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and cheese from the same sources, the results will not be the same because of the hand and eye of the person who makes the pesto.