In praise of parsley

2017-05-31 06:05

“PARSLEY is ghastly," wrote Ogden Nash on this everyday herb which was obviously not a favourite of his. His view, however, is probably a minority one - parsley is one of the most commonly used herbs.

It has been around for a long time. Winners in ancient Greek games were crowned with garlands of parsley and wreaths were made of it to adorn the tombs of the dead. Legend had it that the herb had sprung from the blood of Archemorus, a Greek hero who was the forerunner of death.

Still linked to death, an old English proverb - "to be in need of parsley" - was said that one is at death's door. Some strange claims have been made over the years - it was said that parsley thrown into a fishpond would heal any sick fish, that it would cure foot rot in sheep but was fatal for small birds, parrots and fowls.

The Greeks reckoned that a parsley wreath worn while drinking would prevent hangovers, while a British herbalist claimed that if parsley seed was taken prior to a drinking session it “Helpath men that have weyke braynes to beat drinke better.”

Parsely is rich in organic iron and other minerals, and contains vitamins A, B and C. It was said to be able to ease a number of ailments - Culpepper, the famous herbalist claimed it was good for wind and remove obstructions from the liver and spleen.

Not for the fainthearted - it was said to be a popular French remedy for "scrofulous swellings" - pound parsley and snails together in a mortar and apply as a paste daily.

Apart from its culinary and medicinal uses parsley can be used as a breath sweetner and is the traditional antidote to garlic.

On the beauty front, parsley steeped in water overnight makes a cleansing rinse for the skin and is said to enrich hair colour and give it lustre.


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