Sometimes things upset me and I have to have a little rant about them. For example; Brexit, everything Donald Trump ever says, homophobia, racism, idiocy, parsley.
I didn’t say that the things that upset me are always rational, or that they are all world changing issues, sometimes they might just be garden herbs.
So, what’s the problem?
There are basically two types of parsley in the world, flat leaf and curly leaf, and I have a personal issue with one of them. The truth is that I have a very strong opinion about the curliness of my parsley leaves, and I feel compelled to share it.
Let’s look at the cuisines that use a lot of this wonderful herb.
- The Italians use a lot of parsley, and they don’t use curly leaf.
- The French use a lot of parsley, and they don’t use curly leaf.
- Middle Eastern Mediterranean countries use a lot of parsley and they don’t use curly leaf.
- Every well regarded chef you care to ask about parsley doesn’t use curly leaf.
I think you can see where I am going with this, the question is why?
Because most of the curly leaf parsley you find in supermarkets just doesn’t taste of parsley, in fact it doesn’t really taste of anything. It is, in my personal opinion, simply terrible. The flat leaf variety is so much more full of flavour and even the supermarket stuff tastes amazing.
There are exceptions of course. Rima has just read this article, got offended and taken me to the kitchen to eat some curly leaf parsley grown in her parents garden, and it does taste good, very good actually , but it isn’t enough to change my mind about curly leaf in general.
Still, it seems that when I eat out somewhere and the person in the kitchen feels the need for an extra unnecessary garnish they reach for it. Also, somehow it seems to be present in just about every vegetable shop, when flat leaf is harder to find, so somebody must be buying the bloody stuff.
Whoever you are, Please use more flat leaves instead!
Curly leaf parsley merits a place in my affections right next to iceberg lettuce, another flavourless thing that is used because of the way that it looks. Actually the lettuce wins because at least it provides a decent crunchy texture.
Good garnish though, right?
I’ve heard people justify the use of curly leaf parsley with the fact that it is pretty and makes a good garnish. Maybe it is pretty, but I’m of the opinion that anything on the plate should be there for taste value, and that if it happens to look good then that is an additional bonus.
Curly leaf parsley and iceberg lettuce don’t deserve inclusion on any plate for taste value, no matter how green and pretty they look.
I’m feeling a bit better now, so I just want to point out that I’m really not anti-parsley in general. The flat leaf variety is great, and I use it all of the time for all sorts of things, so I like to have plenty to hand.
It’s also easy to grow, I am by no stretch of the imagination a gardener, but I love having fresh herbs outside to pick at and chop up as needed and parsley is a pretty easy one to keep alive. I love to rip a load out just a few days after it has broken through the soil and use it as a microherb. The little baby parsley has so much flavour, it tastes young and fresh, and it looks fantastic with an amazing vivacity of colour.
It’s also worth remembering that while the leaves are pretty, it is actually the stalks that have the most flavour, so chop them finely and throw them into things as well.