Friday, January 06, 2006

Let Us Now Praise Parsley

I never appreciated parsley when I was young. It seemed to be nothing more than a plate garnish, along with that goofy twisted half orange slice, that no one ever ate.
When you did venture to taste the parsley, it had an unappealing, frizzy texture in your mouth and a flavor of not much more than "green." You know. Chlorophyll.
And yet, recipes kept calling for the addition of parsley... something I usually omitted, because I saw little value in it. Until the dawn of new awareness in eating, especially here in California, in the 70s. All of a sudden, Flat-Leaf Italian Parsley entered the cook's lexicon. I'd been seeing (and not using) nothing but the curly type.
Even with this new (to me) variety, though, I didn't find much in its flavor profile to wow me, though I did think the absence of curliness felt a lot better in my mouth.
Then I started growing my own flat-leaf parsley, and I gradually got to appreciate its nuances. Within the leaf I learned to taste not only chlorophyll (which is a good flavor), but also traces of licorice, carrot, grass... a sort of meadow-y sweetness.
I can't claim that my homegrown parsley is always at its peak. In fact, the Italian variety is a poor self-seeder, and needs to be replaced every year. So sometimes I buy a bunch at the market, and I'm fortunate to live in an area where the produce at the market is really fresh.
Look for dark green leaves without any sign of yellowing (or — horrors — slime). Big, healthy, robust leaves taste best.
If you aren't growing your own, take the twist-tie off the bundle you buy at the store, wash the whole bunch, and spread it out on a clean dish towel to dry. Then, gather the bundle up again, chop off the lower stems (about an inch), and place the "bouquet" in a glass half-full of water. Place the glass of parsley on a shelf in your fridge and cover it with an inverted plastic bag (loosely). The leaves should stay nice for at least a week.
And when you cook with it, use a lot!
(Click the pic and see the monarch butterfly Bean Sprout is looking at! This was snapped back in June, before Kalyn even dreamed up Weekend Herb blogging.)


Kalyn said...

You're right that they do call jello "salad" in Utah. Go figure. But did you know that Jello is the official Utah state dessert. As declared by the Utah State Legislature? Now you know.

Love parsley, by the way. Much more to my liking than jello, green or any other color. (I knew it was going to be hard to fit in as a kid when I realized I did NOT like jello.)

Jack said...

I'm sorry, but I don't think I will ever praise parsley.

cookiecrumb said...

Jell-O is official! Did not know that, Kalyn.
Jack: I think the moment I fell hard for parsley was last summer when we showered ultra-fresh-fresh grilled sardines with chopped parsley, and the synergy was incredible. So I say, "Paisley!"

Jamie said...

I agree that parsley is tricky to grow much of. Mine is never half as impressive as its neighbor, cilantro. I buy a big bunch of parsley to supplement what I grow when I make things like, say, tabouli.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your new blog header!!!

cookiecrumb said...

Thanks, Jamie! Guess I'll keep it up for a while.
(I can't grow cilantro! Go figure. Maybe it's time to try again.)

Mona said...

Parsley or no parsley, you're tagged:) But jealous you grow your own herbs!

Paz said...

I wish I could grow my own parsley and other herbs.

Love Bean Sprout shot as usual.