HISTORICAL HINTS: Parsley means “rock celery” in Greek since it grows wild especially near rocks and walls. Since Roman times, when its aromatic and beneficial properties begun to be appreciated, parsley has become a kitchen garden plant and it is now cultivated in all the Italian territory. It seems that parsley was already known in antiquity and that Greeks used it, not as an aroma, but as a decoration for tombstones and bushes, mainly for its therapeutic properties: it seems to be very useful against kidneys bladder problems, and toothache. Romans, instead, used it to cook and to prepare decorative garlands for banquet guests. Etruscans, the Romans neighbours, considered parsley as a magical plant to prepare miraculous ointments. For the fact that parsley is used for everything, this plant has inspired a famous proverb: “to be everywhere as parsley”.
THE PLANT - Parsley or Petroselinum sativum is an herbaceous aromatic plant belonging to the Umbrelliferae family and native to Sardinia region. Its stalk height may vary from 15 to 80 cm and its bright green leaves can be flat or curly according to the variety; however both varieties maintain quite triangular shaped leaves.
Parsley is one of the most widely used aromatic plant of our culinary tradition and has several therapeutic and curative properties as it contains vitamins and mineral salts; in particular it contains vitamin A, C, E, iron, calcium, phosphorus, copper. This plant is excellent against anaemia, chronic fatigue and weariness after an illness or a physical effort; it works as a remineralizer in case of vitamin lack, against rheumatisms and gout, to regularize menstruation, against water retention, intestinal parasite disease, urinary infections, mastitis, to regularize digestion and intestinal transit, to prevent intestinal gas formation and fermentation, to improve blood circulation and to help the whole cardio-circulatory system. For external use, parsley is also good to relieve from insects pricks, contusions and toothache; it also has diuretic and sudoriparous properties, beside being emmenagogue. It contributes in keeping hair and nails in a good state and chewing it helps refreshing breath and improves the skin giving elasticity and tonicity, it also calms cough down because of its carminative properties. Pregnant women must be careful in taking parsley because it may provoke abortion and if applied on the breast it can reduce milk production; anyway it is not possible to do without parsley and we recommend you to use it fresh to maintain all its qualities.
CULINARY USE - The main characteristic of parsley is that it is practically used everywhere in kitchen: both to season food and for decoration. Parsley is also able to revive other herbs and spices aroma and, precisely for this reason, it is used to prepare sauces, appetizers, pasta, meat and especially fish dishes. We just advise you to eat it fresh to keep its taste, so add it at the end of the preparation for cooked meals.