Parsley, Petroselinum hortense is a bright green, biennial, herbaceous plant. It is a member of the Apiaceae family, native to the central Mediterranean region (southern Italy, Algeria and Tunisia), naturalized elsewhere in Europe, and widely cultivated as an herb, a spice and a vegetable.
There is an old superstition against transplanting parsley plants. The herb is said to have been dedicated to Persephone and to funeral rites by the Greeks. It was afterwards consecrated to St. Peter in his character of successor to Charon.
The Greeks held parsley in high esteem, crowning the victors with chaplets of Parsley at the Isthmian games, and making with it wreaths for adorning the tombs of their dead. It was reputed to have sprung from the blood of a Greek hero, Archemorus, the forerunner of death, and Homer relates that chariot horses were fed by warriors with the leaves. Greek gardens were often bordered with Parsley and Rue.
Parsley is widely used in Middle Eastern, European, and American cooking. Curly leaf parsley is often used as a garnish. In central and eastern Europe and in western Asia, many dishes are served with fresh green chopped parsley sprinkled on top. Green parsley is often used as a garnish on potato dishes (boiled or mashed potatoes), on rice dishes (risotto or pilaf), on fish, fried chicken, lamb or goose, steaks, meat or vegetable stews (like beef bourguignon, goulash or chicken paprikash).
In southern and central Europe, parsley is part of bouquet garni, a bundle of fresh herbs used as an ingredient in stocks, soups, and sauces. Freshly chopped green parsley is used as a topping for soups such as chicken soup, green salads or salads such as salade Olivier from my homeland, and on open sandwiches with cold cuts or pâtés. Parsley is a key ingredient in several Middle Eastern salads such as tabbouleh. Persillade is a mixture of chopped garlic and chopped parsley used in French cuisine. Gremolata, a traditional accompaniment to the Italian veal stew and ossobuco alla milanese, is a mixture of parsley, garlic, and lemon zest.
I use parsley so much in my cooking that I actually decided to grow it on our balcony. That proved to be a most difficult feat! Our parsley plant refused to grow for two years until finally this spring that scrawny little herb blossomed into the emerald green beauty you see here.