With its aromatic, fresh and subtly lemony flavor, parsley is one of the most important all-rounder herbs. Its popularity is attributed in no small part to Charlemagne.
Parsley as an Herb
Curly parsley and flat-leaf parsley have a similar flavor: fresh and sweet, aromatic yet mild, lemony with a hint of anise. However, flat-leaf parsley has a somewhat more intense and balanced flavor. Today, parsley is one of the most universally popular culinary herbs, and this is thanks in no small part to an order issued by Charlemagne. Around 800 AD, the emperor ordered that certain herbs had to be grown in every monastery garden in his kingdom. Parsley was one of these herbs, and it spread rapidly as a result.
Fresh or dried, parsley gives Austrian dishes such as bread dumplings, parsley potatoes and meat fillings their flavor. And that’s not all: it’s also used in Mediterranean, Asian and North African cuisine for meat, fish, vegetables, pasta and egg dishes, as well as herb butters — the list of possibilities is virtually endless. Parsley tastes particularly delicious when combined with lemon, onion, garlic and olive oil. Parsley leaves are also often used as a garnish; for example, they are fried before topping a traditional Viennese schnitzel.
Parsley loses a lot of its flavor when cooked, so it is best to add it shortly before serving and only heat it briefly.
Parsley originates from the eastern Mediterranean region — it is probably endemic to Greece. The biennial herb grows to up to one meter tall and has tripinnate leaves that can be “curly” or flat. Curly parsley was cultivated because flat-leaved parsley is easy to confuse with poisonous fool’s parsley as they look so similar. Before it gained global popularity as a culinary herb, parsley was used as a medicinal plant. Today, it is grown across almost the entire northern hemisphere and in South America; however, it is rarely found growing wild anymore.
- Scientific Name
- Petroselinum crispum
- Parsley family (Apiaceae)
- Other Names
- Garden parsley, common parsley, rock parsley
- Mediterranean region