The common varieties of this well known green biennial herb come in curly leaf, parsnip rooted, and flat leaf. The curly type is clean fresh and crispy in taste. The crispiness is due to the parsley’s greatest attribute. This is the kind of parsley that is an essential ingredient to the classic flavoring of bouquet garni, together with bay leaves and thyme. Parsley makes up the delicious and traditional french flavoring blend of fine herbs. Along with the chives, chervil, and the tarragon, the chopped parsley perks up any salad and sauce.
The parsnip rooted or the Hamburg parsley is much less familiar than the other form of parsley. The leaves of this variety are somewhat too strong for most of the people’s taste. Sliced raw or cooked, the leaves can be added to salads, soups, stews, or vegetable purees.
The flat leaf or the Italian parsley has the appearance of a delicate saw-toothed leaf pattern. This leaf pattern unfortunately does not hold up for garnishing as with the other varieties.
Many centuries have passed in the cultivation and development of parsley, so much so that its original origin is hard to pinpoint. This is also compounded by the fact that the parsley today bears little similarity to their ancestors. The botanical name Petroselinum given to the parsley comes from the Greek word petro which is stone, because it was found growing on the rocky hillsides of Greece.
However, the Ancient Greeks revered parsley as a symbol of death and oblivion as well as a funeral herb and they are not used in cooking. The herb was used to fashion wreaths for graves, and made as crowns to bestow upon the winners of their sports games.
Studies have proven that alkaline forming foods should make up the 75 percent of the diet. Parsley is an alkaline forming herb and is a great inclusion in your alkaline diet system. It helps to balance our body chemicals that we have to keep. The parsley has a fresh flavor and crisp mouth feel that makes it an ideal accompaniment to most foods. Fresh or dried, they may be used in soups, mashed potatoes, pastas, vegetable dishes, scrambled eggs, and omelets.
Parsley roots are commonly used medicinally in ancient times for digestive disorders, urinary tract problems, and bronchitis. It was used in medicinal recipes for cure-alls, poison antidotes, anti-rheumatism, general tonics, and for kidney and bladder stones.
The parsley oil increases the digestive tract circulation. In Russia, there is a standard preparation of a parsley juice that is given to mothers in labor to stimulate uterine contractions. Additionally, the juice is used to cure toothache, a hair rinse, or a facial steam for people with dry skin. Other common uses of the parsley roots include toning down the urinary tract which lessens possible infections, alleviating painful menstruation, improving asthma, allergies, and mucus, and lowering blood pressure.
Now, modern science has confirmed several of these claims. It is rich in vitamins A, C, minerals, and other compounds that clear the toxins from the body. It is a free radical scavenger and has histamine inhibitors, plus it reduces inflammation. The oil from the seeds of parsley is commercially used to scent some Oriental style perfumes and colognes. It also acts as a great breath freshener due to its high chlorophyll content.