Melvin, Marvin, and Arnold sat around a palm tree, blissfully napping after a satisfying meal of taro chips, alternative cheese, tapioca pudding, and haupia pie tarts. Totally starched out, they rested their paws on their full tummies and thanked their lucky stars that fate and ocean currents had seen fit to land them on this beautiful island. Such was their beneficent mood that Arnold thought that they should really be trying to give back to their gracious hosts in some way.
“Maybe a gift?” suggested Marvin.
“Yeah but what?” said Arnold. “We came with nothing and even our boat is waterlogged now.” (It was true, their acorn husk vessel was lying distended at the bottom of the coral reef where it had become a habitat for clown fish.)
“We could make something!” said Melvin.
“What could we make that they don’t already have here?”
The three mice scratched their heads, out of ideas for the time being. But the next day Arnold came up to the others.
“Guys!” he said excitedly. “Look what I found in my pockets!” He held out a paw. Inside it was filled with tiny black seeds. The other two mice took a sniff.
“Basil!” said Arnold. “I brought seeds in case we needed to start our own garden.”
“Do you think they’ll grow here?”
Arnold shrugged. “Only one way to find out.”
The mice divided up the seeds and with Felicia’s permission, planted them throughout her backyard garden in which mango and calamansi trees were already peppering the landscape with green and yellow. In almost no time at all, twenty basil plants had sprung up, nourished by the copious sunlight.
“They grow even better here than back home!” exclaimed Melvin. And it was true, the basil plants swiftly produced a healthy stock of vibrant, aromatic leaves. In no time at all, the mice had gathered several months’ worth of fresh herbs.
“But what shall we do with it all?” asked Marvin. “There’s too much for just us.”
“Come on,” said Arnold. And leading the others into the kitchen, he grasped a newly minted ball of Felicia’s homemade ‘mozzo’ cheese and began to slice. Fresh veg followed, followed by the herbs and a sprinkling of imported olive oil and local sea salt. When they were done, they took the aromatic plate into Felicia’s room, where she was surrounded by weavings from the basket she was creating.
“A snack!” announced the mice. Felicia tried the delicate plate of complementary and contrasting flavors and whistled in delight. Thereonafter the mice made her a fresh plate with a different vegetable twist every other day or so, and the whole household delighted in the culinary fusions and experiments setting the kitchen ablaze with new scents and flavors.
- Slice tomatoes and cheese in rounds. Wash basil.
- Lay out slices of tomato and cheese, alternating, and sprinkle with pieces of basil.
- Finish with sea salt and olive oil. Done, ba dum dum.