A Chiffonade of Basil


While searching online for strawberry recipes, I came across the most delightful phrase, ‘a chiffonade of basil.’ ‘Chiffonade’ is French for ‘rags,’ and we are going make basil rags today, as a way of practicing the Alexander Technique.

Supplies:  nice sharp knife, basil leaves, sliced strawberries, pepper

Before collecting supplies, let’s tend to good use.  First, pause.    Check in.     Notice your thoughts, which may be running something like this….’Sharp knife?  Guess again—- all are dull….where did I put the cracked pepper….. Which bowl from the hutch?’  And so on.

The perceived urgency of these questions can take you into action before you even know it. And when we act unconsciously in response to a ‘stimulus,’ i.e., this supply list, we often do what Mr. Alexander called, ‘downward-pull.’ (It’s initially easier to observe in others than to feel kinesthetically.  The head is pulled down from the spine and torso, resulting in imbalance of the entire structure.)

As you make Strawberry Salad with a Chiffonade of Basil, please include the following:

Return, over and over again, to your felt sense of yourself.  I do this with prompts.  F.M. called them Directions.  There’s nothing magical about them, just words to assist in returning us to the body and to the body’s ease.

‘I allow my head to move forward and up, that my spine may lengthen and my torso widen.’  —-F.M. Alexander

Head balanced on spine.

Whole Body. Whole World.

Feet on floor.

OK.  That’s the practice. Set yourself a task.  It could be any simple task; making a chiffonade of basil is just one that smells divine.       Pause.     Prompt.      Act.

Pause Again.…Stack 10 or so basil leaves, one on top of the other.     Pause.      Prompt.      Resume.

Roll up the stack of basil leaves into a slender cylinder.  Slice thinly.

Toss your ‘chiffonade of basil’ onto a bowl of sliced strawberries.  Sprinkle with pepper.  I wasn’t too sure about the pepper.  But dear friend Susan Beery, visiting from Utah over the week-end, tried it and liked it.  Me, too. Very much.  Happy chiffonade-ing to you—–



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