Parsley, the most commonly consumed fresh herb in the United States, is an herb that is familiar to all. For many decades it has been the primary herb used as a garnish in restaurants. In America, the curly leaf varieties are grown almost exclusively. However, the plain leaf variety is known to have a more pleasing flavor and is the primary herb grown in most other countries. Often it is the only thing left on the plate at the end of the meal, when it may actually have been the most nutritious item.
This herb has been cultivated for many centuries and is naturalized throughout much of Europe. Parsley is believed to have originated from Southeastern Europe, the
Mediterranean region or western Asia. Parsley’s name comes from two Greek words Petrose meaning rock; from its propensity to rocky cliffs and old stone walls; and selenium an ancient name for celery-so one can think of it as “rock celery”.
The use of this herb as a garnish arises from the centuries old belief that at the end of the meal, chewing a few of the fresh leaves freshens the breath. It was even believed that chewing the leaves would make the odor of garlic disappear. The ancient Greeks and Romans used parsley for ceremonial purposes, more so than for culinary efforts.
Parsley is high in vitamin A and C, fiber, potassium, magnesium, calcium, niacin, riboflavin and iron. Surprisingly the leaves also contain a significant amount of protein. If the juices are extracted it should be used in moderation as it is a very strong medicine. Parsley is often made into infusion or tea or combined with other herbs to promote health.