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Parsley (Petroselinum crispum [Mill.] Nyman ex A. W. Hill)

Synonyms

botanicalPetroselinum hortense, Apium petroselinum
pharmaceuticalRadix Petroselini (root), Fructus Petroselini (fruits)
AlbanianMajdanoz, Majdanozi, Mardanca, Merudhi
Amharicፔትርዚሊ
Peterzili
Arabicبقدونس, مقدونس
بَقْدُونِس, مَقْدُونِس
Baqdounis, Baqdunis; Maqdounis, Maqdunis (North Africa)
Aramaicܦܝܛܪܘܣܝܠܝܢܘܢ
Pitrosilinon
ArmenianԱզատքեղ, Մաղադանոս
Azadkegh, Maghatanos, Azatkegh, Maghadanos
AzeriCəfəri, Cəfəri göyərti
Ҹәфәри, Ҹәфәри ҝөјәрти
BasquePerrexil, Perrexila
BelarusianПатраўка, Пятрушка
Patraŭka, Piatrushka
BretonPerisilh
BulgarianМагданоз, Мерудия
Magdanoz, Merudiya, Merudia
CatalanJulivert
Chinese
(Cantonese)
香菜 [hēung choi], 芫茜 [yùhn sāi]
Heong choi, Yuhn sai
Chinese
(Mandarin)
香菜 [xiāng cài], 洋芫荽 [yáng yuán suī], 巴西利 [bā xī lì], 荷蘭芹 [hé lán qín], 欧芹 [ōu qín]
Xiang cai, Yang yuan sui, Ba xi li, He lan qin, Ou qin
Copticⲕⲣⲁⲙ, ⲗⲁⲧ, ⲙⲓⲧ
Kram (?), Lat, Mit (?)
CroatianPeršin, Peršun
CzechPetržel, Petrželka, Petržel zahradní, Petržel kadeřavá
DanishPersille
DutchPeterselie; Krulpeterselie (crispate-leaved variety)
EsperantoPetroselo
EstonianAedpetersell, Petersell
Farsiجعفری
Jaafari
FinnishPersilja
FrenchPersil
GaelicFionnas-gàrraidh, Muinean-Muire, Pairseil, Pearsal
GalicianPerexil, Pirixel
Georgianოხრახუში, მაკიდონელი, პეტრუშკა, მწვანილი
Okhrakhushi, Oxraxushi, Mak’idoneli, Makidoneli, P’et’rushk’a, Mts’vanili, Mtsvanili
GermanPetersilie, Petersil; Peterwurz (root)
GreekΜαϊντανό, Μαϊντανός, Μακεδονίσι, Περσέμολο
Maïntano, Maïntanos, Makedonisi, Persemolo
Greek (Old)Πετροσέλινον
Petroselinon
Hebrewפטרוסיליה, פטרוזיליה
פֵּטרוֹסִילִיָה, פֶּטְרוֹזִילְיָה
Petrosilia, Petrozilia
Hindiअजमोद, अजमूद, कुरासानी, पारसले
Ajmod, Ajmud, Khurasani, Parsle
HungarianPetrezselyem
IcelandicPétursselja, Steinselja
IndonesianSeledri, Peterseli
IrishPeirsil
ItalianPrezzemolo
Japaneseパセリ
Paseri
KazakhАқжелек, Ақжелкек, Ақжелкен, Зәжаба
Aqjelek, Aqjelkek, Aqjelken, Zäjaba
KhmerVanns baraing
Korean미나리, 파슬리, 양쑥갓
Minari, Pasulli, Yangssukkas
Laoຜັກຊີຝລັ່ງ, ພລາສລີ່
Pak si falang, Phlasli
LatinPetroselinum, Petrosilenum
LatvianDārza pētersīļi
LithuanianPetražolė, Sėjamoji petražolė
MacedonianМагдонос, Мајдонос
Magdanos, Majdonos
MalteseTursin
MongolianЯншуй
Yanshuj
NorwegianPersille
PolishPietruszka zwyczajna
PortugueseSalsa, Salsinha
ProvençalJouver, Juvert, Peiresilh
RomanianPătrunjel
RussianПетрушка
Petrushka
SerbianПершун, Першин
Peršun, Peršin
Sinhalaරට අසමෝදගම්
Rata asamodagam
SlovakPetržlen záhradný, Petržlen
SlovenianPeteršilj
SpanishPerejil
SrananMetiwiwiri
SwedishPersilja
TagalogKintsay
TajikЧаъфари, Ҷаъфари
Chafari, Jafari
Thaiพาร์สลีย์, ผักชีฝรั่ง, เทียนเยาวพาณี
Pasli, Phakchi farang, Thian yaowapani
Tigrinyaፐርሰሜሎ
Persamelo
TurkishMaydanoz, Bal maydanozu
TurkmenPetruşka
Петрушка
UkrainianПетрушка городня
Petrushka horodnya
Urduپتر سیلی, خرف
Peter sili, Kharf
UzbekPetrushka
Петрушка
VietnameseRau mùi tây
Rau mui tay
WelshPerllys, Persli
Yiddishפּעטרעשקע, פּעטרישקע
Petreshke, Petrishke
Petroselinum crispum: Parsley leaves
Parsley leaves. Above ordinary flat parsley, below the crispate cultivar.
Used plant part

Leaves, root and (rarely) fruits. Dried leaves have little or no fragrance.

Plant family

Apiaceae (parsley family).

Sensory quality

All parts of the plant exhibit the same characteristic aroma; it is strongest in the root.

Main constituents

There are three cultivated varieties, which in part differ by their chemism. Var. latifolium (broad-leaved) and var. crispum (curly-leaved) are grown for their leaves, and var. tuber­osum is grown for its root.

The essential oils of leaves and root show approximately the same composition. The main components (10–30%) are myristicin, limonene and 1,3,8-p-menthatriene; minor components are mono- and sesquiterpenes. The curly varieties (var. crispum) tend to be richer in myristicin, but contain much less essential oil than var. latifolium (0.01 and 0.04%, respectively).

In contrast, the essential oil from the fruits (3–6%) is either dominated by myristicin (60 to 80%; mostly var. tuberosum and var. crispum) or by apiole (70%; mostly var. latifolium). A third chemical race shows allyl tetramethoxy benzene (55 to 75%), which can also appear in apiol-dominated oils (up to 20%).

Toxic poly-ynes have been found in parsley, though in very low concentrations. Another matter of concern is that the photosensitizing furano-coumarins bergaptene and isoimperatorin have been found in the root.

Origin

The plant is of South European (probably East Mediterranean) origin and became popular in more Northern latitudes in the Middle Ages, when it was commonly grown in monasteries and Imperial gardens according to the Capitulare de villis (see lovage).

Petroselinum crispum: Parsley roots
Parsley roots

In our days, two different varieties are grown: Root parsley (var. tuberosum) has a tender, edible root (used as aromatic vegetable), whereas leaf parsley is solely cultivated for its leafs, which are chopped and used as a garnish in many European countries; its root is small and tough with a woody texture.

Etymology

The botanical genus name, Petroselinum, equals the classical Latin name for parsley; it was derived from Greek petroselinon [πετροσέλινον] parsley, which in turn is composed from petros [πέτρος] rock, stone and selinon [σέλινον] celery. Parsley, then, must mean rock celery. Why it was called so is not known to me.

Note that the second part of the name, selinon [σέλινον], is not only translated celery but also wild parsley; it appears that little distinction was made between those two in Greece. The word appears already on Linear-B tablets as selinon [𐀮𐀪𐀜] and has a prominent appearance in the Odysseia, where the herb decorates the shore of the island Ogygia [Ὠγυγία], home of the beautiful nymph Kalypso [Καλυψώ]: leimones iou ede selinou theleon [λειμῶνες ἴου ἠδὲ σελίνου θήλεον] the meadows were full of violet and wild parsley — a strange combination of flowers! See also poppy on the Homeric epics.

Petroselinum crispum: Flowering parsley
Flowering parsley

The species name crispus crispate evidently was given because of the crispate leave shape. Some cultivars have this tendency much in­creased (curly parsley).

Greek petro­selinon [πετρο­σέλινον] and its Latin adaptation petro­selinum are the source of most names of that herb in modern European tongues, e. g., English parsley, Swedish persilja, Irish Gaelic pearsal, Spanish perejil, Romanian pătrunjel, Latvian pētersīļi, Yiddish petrishke [פּעטרישקע], Estonian petersell, Basque perrexil Serbo-Croatian peršun [першун], and Russian petrushka [петрушка]. Note that Icelandic has the partial translation steinselja stone celery. The name was also transferred to some more distant languages, e. g. Hebrew petrosilia [פטרוזיליה], Tigrinya persemelo [ፐርሰሜሎ], Urdu peter sili [پتر سیلی] and Turkmen petruşka. The most Eastern representatives of that kin are Indonesian peterseli, Japanese paseri [パセリ] and Korean pasulli [파슬리].

Quite surprisingly, Modern Greek has an unrelated name for parsley which shows no relation to the Old Greek name: The herb is known by a number of similar regional names including maidanos [μαϊντανός] and maidano [μαϊντανό]. This name is actually a loan from Turkish, where the parsley is known as maydanoz. The Turks came to know parsley only via the Greeks, and their name is allegedly derived from an area in Northern Greece known as Macedonia; so the Turkish name originally meant Macedonian herb. Due to the large extension of the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish name spread to several languages of South Eastern Europe and the Orient: Macedonian majdonos [мајдонос], Bulgarian magdanoz [магданоз], Georgian mak’idoneli [მაკიდონელი], Armenian maghatanos [մաղադանոս], Albanian majdanoz and Arabic al-baqdunis [البقدونس] (Maghrebi Arabic: al-maqdunis [المقدونس]).

Some Central Asian languages have names for parsley which are unrelated to both Greek petroselinon and Turkish maydanoz, but rather form a third group: Azerbaijani cəfəri, Kurdish ja'fari [جةعفةری], Farsi jaafari [جعفری] and possibly also Kazakh zäjaba [зәжаба]. I do not know anything about this group of names.

In countries which have no traditional use for parsley, the herb is often named as a variant of coriander which has similar-shaped leaves that can be used similarly to parsley leaves, e. g. Khmer vanns baraig foreign coriander (literally Frankish coriander) or Vietnamese rau mui tay [rau mùi tây] Western coriander; a similar idea is expressed by Chinese ou qin [欧芹] European celery. Two other names, Thai phakchi farang [ผักชีฝรั่ง], and Chinese yang yuan sui [洋芫荽] both mean Western coriander, but may denote both parsley and another foreign coriander, the long coriander of Mesoamerican origin. The Laotian name of parsley, phaksi falang [ຜັກຊີຝລັ່ງ, appears to follow the same principle, but is rather a false friend: In the Lao language, it means foreign dill.

In the opposite way, coriander is often termed Indian parsley (or similar) in Western countries. In quite the same spirit, the name French parsley is sometimes used for chervil.

Selected Links

Indian Spices: Parsley (indianetzone.com) Ilkas und Ullis Kochecke: Petersilie (rezkonv.de via archive.org) A Pinch of Parsley (www.apinchof.com) Maria Fremlin’s extraordinary Parsley Page Pflanzen des Capitulare de Villis: Petersilie (biozac.de) chemikalienlexikon.de: Apiol chemikalienlexikon.de: Myristicin Floridata.com: Parsley Herbs by Linda Gilbert: Parsley Desirable Herb and Spice Varieties: Parsley Recipe: Tabouli, Tabbouleh [تبولة] (www.e-rcps.com) Recipe: Tabbouleh [تبولة] (www.deliaonline.com) Recipe: Kısır (Kisir) (recipecottage.com) Recipe: Kısır (Kisir) (masterstech-home.com) Recipe: Baba ganoush [بابا غنوج] (www.cooks.com) Recipe: Baba ganoush [بابا غنوج] (recipesource.com)


Petroselinum crispum: Parsley plant
Parsley plant, flowering
Parsley is known since millennia in the Medi­terranean; is usage for cultic purposes dates back to old Greece (see celery about the Isthmian Games). Today, chopped parsley leaves are a popular decoration in Central Europe (similar to the use of coriander leaves in China, South East Asia and parts of India), mostly for soups and vegetables.

Parsley is often used for sauces; the famous German Green Sauce is an example (see borage). Chopped parsley and garlic in olive oil make for a wonderful Mediterranean sauce, to be served to broiled fish.

As an alternative, especially in France, chervil leaves may serve the same purpose. French cooks frequently combine parsley with other fresh herbs (e. g., chervil or balm) or use a classical composition, the renowned fines herbes (see chives); this mixture may substitute pure parsley leaves for any application, thus giving the dishes a richer aroma and somewhat Mediterranean character. The famous French recipe sauce béarnaise also makes use of fresh parsley leaves (see tarragon).

As parsley aroma suffers from any prolonged heat treatment, parsley leaves should not be cooked if distinct parley fragrance is desired; quick frying in olive oil, though, is acceptable. There is, however, one important exception: bouquet garni.

Petroselinum crispum: Parsley inflorescence
Parsley flowers

Bouquet garni typically consists of a selection of fresh herbs which are tied to a bundle and cooked in soups, sauces or stews; due to the long cooking time, the herbs’ aroma merges with the flavour of the other ingredients, thereby enriching the food without being recognizable in the finished dish. There are many different kinds of bouquet garni, but most of them contain parsley; furthermore, fresh sprigs of thyme are very often used. Other components depend both on the type of food and on the region.

In France, bouquet garni often contains fresh bay leaves, chervil and a clove of garlic; in the South (Provence), cooks would add a piece of fresh orange peel. Some recipes suggest rosemary and tarragon (you could also use Mexican tarragon instead). German bouquet garni, on the other side, often employs celery, savory and, for fish soup or stew, dill besides parsley. A variety of bouquet garni called Suppengrün (soups’ green) is common for stock prepared from beef meat or bones; it contains parsley and celery roots together with carrots, leek, lovage and onion.

Herb bundles are also used in Italian cookery; the herbs most popular are marjoram, lovage, basil and oregano. The fruity tone of tomato sauces goes best with lemon thyme or rue (remove after a few minutes!). Obviously, personal preference plays a major part when it comes to bouquet garni; many herbs less frequently used in the kitchen can be tried (e. g., hyssop, sage, southernwood and many more).

Parsley is a common and popular herb in Western Asia and often appears in Turkish, Lebanese, Syrian or Jordan foods, particularly as a decoration for cold appetizers like hummus [حمص] (flavoured chick pea puree, see sesame) or baba ganoush [بابا غنوج] (aubergine puree). Another famous example is tabbouleh [تبولة], often regarded as the national dish of Lebanon: It is a salad made from burghul [برغل] (also bulghur; Turkish bulgur, parboiled cracked wheat), onion, lemon juice and a selection of vegetables, often cucumber or tomatoes; it owes its fresh flavour to large amounts of chopped fresh parsley and also some mint leaves. In Turkey, a similar salad is prepared (kısır), whose flavour and colour are, however, much altered by use of paprika paste (biber salçası); instead of or together with lemon juice, cooks will often employ pomegranate concentrate. Another Turkish food of that type is çiğ köfte, which, however, contains raw beef and is rather spicy due to a special type of paprika employed.

In the Caucasian region, parsley is also known and popular; dried parsley appears in the famous spice mixture from Georgia, khmeli-suneli (see blue fenugreek). It is also found, dried of fresh, in the Irani herb blend ghorme (see fenugreek).

The root of parsley is eaten as a vegetable or cooked in soup to improve the soup’s taste, as it does not diminish in flavour after a long time of cooking; cf. above for German Suppengrün. The fruits, though aromatic, have found little application; their use in vegetable stews or lentil dishes may, however, have surprising effects. Since they are an efficient diuretic drug, large amounts of them may be hazardous, especially for people with kidney weakness; the same holds true, but to a lesser extent, for the root, but not for the leaves.



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