Saturday, July 15, 2006

The parsley percentage

Curly parsley 'is a vegetable decoration substance, a frivolous fake herb, hurray chlorophyll with no value', or so says Onno Kleyn in the Iens & Outs e-mail newsletter of July. You may think this a bold statement for something so obvious, but it is a fairly accurate description of the sorry state of parsley in this country. Curly parsley is the common variety here, the one you can buy in supermarkets, the one you'll find in every bowl of soup and on every plate on top of a slice of tomato. Garnishing is all we use it for. The tastier flat-leaf kind is nowhere to be found, except in Turkish or Maroccan shops. I am happy to learn that Onno Kleyn's plea has been answered (starting next month flat-leaf parsley will be on the shelfs of our biggest grocer), though I would regard it a poor victory if this variety too would meet with the same trivial fate.
So what is needed now is a recipe with lots of flat-leaf parsley. Tabouleh is a good one, the more so as I can add a plea of my own: to augment the parsley percentage. Tabouleh is not a wheat dish of bulghur with tomatoes, cucumber and onions and only a handful of parsley and mint, but a parsley and mint salad with spring onions and some bulghur. I learned to make it this way when visiting the S. family of the Arab village of A. in the Galilee, Israel, now nine years ago. Big bowls of dark green tabouleh were served to accompany sheer endless servings of grilled lamb skewers at their youngest son's engagement party.
To serve 4. Soak half a cup of bulghur in hot water for some minutes, then rinse well. Take equal amounts (at least one big bush - no supermarket quantitees here) of flat-leaf parsley and nana (Maroccan mint). Chop the parsley (with the stalks), the mint (leafs only) and 2-3 spring onions. Mix the greens with the bulghur, add olive oil and lemon juice, and salt to taste. Serve slightly chilled. Who needs tomatoes?
If you want to know more about parsley (e.g. its chemical components, or its name in any language you can think of), see Gernot Katzer's website (English and German). Just don't believe him when he says that parsley is used in hummus.


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