Parsley has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years, although it was first used in medicine and not food. Its name comes from the Greek, ‘petros selinon’ meaning, "rock celery”. There are many different types of this herb, but we refer to the curly leaved variety and flat leaved or Italian parsley.
The ancient Greeks believed that parsley had sprung from the blood of one of their fallen heroes, Archemorus, and it was sacred to Persephone, goddess of the underworld. It was never used in food or placed on their tables as it symbolized oblivion and the dead. However it was used to crown victorious athletes at the Isthmian games.
In contrast, the Romans used parsley to cure the ‘morning after the banquet feeling’, and Pliny the Elder wrote that no salad or sauce should be prepared without it. We often use it to take the smell of garlic from our breath. In medieval times it was placed on tables and worn around the necks of those at a feast, because it was thought to absorb food odours.
The parsley root has been used in infusions to break up kidney stones, and we use its juice to take the pain away after being stung by an insect. It offers quick relief.
Scientists have found that it contains a substance which can inhibit the growth of cancerous cells, and some believe that in the future it may prove to be an aid to preventing cancer.
It is a rich source of vitamin C and can be used in salads, such as this one; chopped Florentine fennel, orange slices, cherry tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and parsley. It’s tasty, try it.
Parsley has been used in hair lotions to rid the scalp of dandruff and promote hair growth and to produce yellow and green dyes.
Curly parsley has been used as a garnish, only to be discarded, but if you find a piece of this herb on your plate eat it and give your taste buds a treat.
You might have seen these terms in recipes and this is what they mean: persillade-chopped parsley and chopped garlic; gremolata, the same but with grated lemon zest too.
Try our parsley sauce recipe below. It’s great with fish.
½ pint milk
20 gr plain flour
40 gr butter
6 tbsps finely chopped curly leaved parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the butter in a pan over a low heat. Remove from the heat and add the flour, stirring to a smooth paste. Add the milk slowly, stirring all the time. When the sauce boils, add the chopped parsley and simmer for 5 mins.
It’s ready to serve with fish.
This has Taste and is a Treat.