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.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.