Those of you who are older than 50 I’m sure will remember songs by Simon & Garfunkel. In their third album from 1966. They introduced various herbs/spices in the words of Scarborough Faire.
Are you going to Scarborough Fair,
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.
The original version dates back to the 16th century and there really was a fair in the town of Scarborough. There are many guesses as to what the whole song means. That the spices are in the song is either that it has an important meaning or it just rhymes.
Not technically a spice, parsley is the world’s most popular herb. It is native to the Mediterranean region. It derives its name from the Greek word meaning “rock celery” (parsley is a relative to celery). A biennial plant, it will return to the garden year after year once it is established.
PARSLEY – a herb which aids in digestion, but many believe eating it will also help take away bitterness. Eating a leaf or so of parsley with a meal enables better digestion, especially of heavy vegetables such as spinach. Medieval doctors also felt parsley aided spiritually with eliminating bitterness. Relationships where bitterness is present will not last until removed.
There are two main cultivars (types but not of natural botanical origin) of parsley: leaf parsley and root parsley. Leaf parsley is further divided into a flat leaf and the curly leaf type. Root parsley looks similar to the parsnip but the taste is obviously quite different from that of parsnips. These cultivar types of parsley have different flavors and many feel that flat leaf parsley is the stronger. Two tablespoons contain 155% of daily vitamin K. Parsley is a good source of folic acid, which helps in cardiovascular health. It also contains vitamin C, which many believe helps in the prevention of rheumatoid arthritis.
You will probably see parsley on your plate as a garnish. Eat it and throw out the rest of the stuff. At least recognize its true worth and partake of its abilities to improve your health. As an added bonus, you’ll also enjoy parsley’s legendary ability to cleanse your palate and your breath at the end of your meal.
Chefs use parsley extensively in culinary dishes as well as a plate garnish. They use it successfully in various soups, sauces, stews, salads and even casseroles. Don’t underestimate parsleys’ versatility. It adds not only to the sense of taste but to the esthetic value as well. We make soups that use parsley and it adds to the nutrition and the flavor. The main problem in buying fresh is that it comes in a bunch and you have to use it up.
Don’t go hunting parsley in the wild unless you know what you are doing. Fool’s parsley is a European weed naturalized in America that resembles parsley but causes nausea and poisoning when eaten. You might see it also in swamps or swampy areas. I have always thought carrot tops look like parsley. Just go to the store and select a bunch labeled parsley.
Parsley serves other purposes besides in culinary dishes. In a garden, it will attract certain swallowtail butterflies that use it as a host plant for their larvae, which will then feed on the parsley for two weeks before turning into butterflies. Various nectar-feeding insects such as bees, will seek out flowering parsley plants, and birds, such as the goldfinch feed on the seeds. So, here’s to parsley, a herb said to remove bitterness and enhance our meals in more than one way.