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Definition: In ancient times parsley wreaths were used to ward off drunkenness--though proof of their efficacy in that capacity is scarce. Today, this slightly peppery, fresh-flavored herb is more commonly used as a flavoring and garnish. Though there are more than 30 varieties of this herb, the most popular are curly-leaf
parsley and the more strongly flavored Italian or flat-leaf
parsley. Fresh curly leaf parsley is widely available year-round, while Italian parsley must sometimes be searched out in gourmet produce markets. Parsley is sold in bunches and should be chosen for its bright-green leaves that show no sign of wilting. Wash fresh parsley, shaking off excess moisture, and wrap first in paper towels, then in a plastic bag. Refrigerate for up to a week. Dried parsley is available in the spice section of most supermarkets but bears little resemblance to the flavor of fresh. Parsley is an excellent source of vitamins A and C. See also herbs; Herb and Spice Chart.
--Copyright (c) 1995 by Barron's Educational Series, from The New Food Lover's Companion, Second Edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst