Petroselinum sativum Hoffm., Petroselinum hortense Auct., Petroselinum crispum Hill — apparently, these are all synonyms
Prezzemolo derives from the Greek word petroselion, meaning celery of the rocks, and it refers to the fact that the herb can grow on less than hospitable terrain. I find this particularly encouraging, because I consider my little herb garden a rather welcoming place, which means parsley should find adequate accommodation in it.
The best known varieties are the one with flat leaves, most commonly used in Italy, and the one with curly leaves, which I had never seen before moving to California.
In Italy we often use the expression come il prezzemolo (like parsley) to describe someone or something that tends to be always present, because parsley is an almost ubiquitous ingredient of Italian savory dishes and it is the base of many sauces. Prezzemolo is a component of gli odori, our version of the bouquet garni. When I went grocery shopping for my mother as a child I always had this item on my list, and I would get it for free from our neighborhood fruit and vegetable store. The owner prepared it on the fly, choosing among what he had available: a few sprigs of parsley, a carrot and a celery rib were a constant presence, while other components varied according to the season.
I have to admit I am still not adjusted to the fact that here I have to buy a big bunch of parsley: I would prefer to get a smaller quantity, even though that would mean buying it more often. About a month ago I scattered a small package of parsley seeds in a corner of my herb garden. I could not see anything happening, so last Saturday I bought a small plant of parsley Gigante d'Italia to cheer me up. When I went to transplant it (photo above), I noticed green speckles where I had put down the seeds (photo below), so I am hoping that in time the plant will have plenty of company. Then I will be able to pick prezzemolo fresco for my dishes not far from where I am preparing them.
This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, a food blogging event started by Kalyn's Kitchen, hosted this week by the founder herself, just returned from a trip to San Francisco. Here is the roundup of WHB #89.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the prezzemolo audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]