Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"To make meat of parsley."

I have mixed feelings about parsley. It has a very long and extensive history as both a culinary and medicinal herb – for which I admire it enormously. Its reputation has, however, been sullied, I believe, by its modern use as the lazy cook’s generic green sprinkle over anything and everything – a ploy which leaves me saddened and disappointed.

I happen to like parsley, myself, although don’t use it much in cooking as I am married to a parsley-hater. The parsley-hater hates the green leafy bits – but I don’t believe either he or I have ever eaten parsley root - so methinks, if I can source some, I will try it out on both of us.

The whole of the parsley plant is edible, but at least one cultivar is grown specifically for its thicker root. This type is used enthusiastically in many parts of Central and Eastern Europe, which accounts for some of its common names of Hamburg parsley, Dutch parsley, Rock Parsley, Rock Selinen, Turnip-rooted parsley, Parsnip-rooted parsley, Padrushka, and Heimischer. I understand that parsley root looks similar to parsnip (to which it is related), but tastes quite different. It is used in the same way as parsnip and other root vegetables, which means it comes into its own in stews and soups, and would presumably be sweetly delicious when roasted.

I give you a recipe for parsley root taken from Epulario, or, The Italian Banquet (the English translation of 1598). Note that ‘meat’ does not imply a vegetarian recipe, but the word is used in the old sense of ‘meat’ simply meaning ‘food’.

To make meat of parsley
Take Parsely rootes, and pull out the string or pith which is within them, and make them very clean, and boile them very well in flesh broth with Pepper and saffaron, this may likewise be done with oile.

Quotation for the Day.

Parsley is gharsley.
Ogden Nash (1902-71)

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