Sunday, February 07, 2016

That was a good TV-Experience from lovely Italy........




University of Bologna, (photo wikipedia)
I just saw an episode "The Art of the Feast" with Andrew Graham-Dixon and Giorgio Locatelli in TV - series Italy Unpacked. They  travel through Italy exploring the country's history, culture, food, art and landscape.

This first time I saw it was also the very first episode I guess. They began in Bologna, la Dotta, la Grassa,la Rossa. They visit shops, art institutions and the oldest university in the world.  I was not aware this was the oldest Uni in the world, but it is great to get some information. I like that kind of TV -  and I always love to see something from sunny Italy. I can almost feel the sun is shining when I see this golden light in Bologna and the district, but then I look out my window and see reality: a dark and grey winter's day. .

I like those two guys, with their mix of English and Italian talk, they are so enthusiastic about things.  They suit well together and I'm looking forward to the next shows.

I wonder what car they drive. Seem to be Graham-Dixons car  He told he is a fan of great cars. They visited the Ferrari Museum in Modena. Great architecture by the Czech Jan Kaplický



An Italian lady made pasta in a beautiful Italian room which was actually a shop where you could buy pasta.  In the Bologna way. Not with durum flour, but with light flour. I have sometimes made pasta in that way (Fettucine) and it tastes heavenly, much much better than the pasta you buy in the supermarket. Maybe I should make some pasta this week. Although this one is very rich. Lots of calories -  la Grassa.


And there was much more about good food in the region :  like Balsamico and Parma ham etc.

Palazzo Diamanti, Ferrara (photo Google Earth )
The Palazzo Diamanti in Ferrara is mildly said a special building, each building stone is shaped like a diamond. It was built ab. 1495, the building master was duke Ercole d'Este, the master of many of the most famous buildings in Ferrara. He had a nickname : Diamond.  His daughter Isabella d'Este was a famous woman in history, she was one of the leading women of the Italian Renaissance. (She is one of my favorite Italian personalities from history). His son Alfonso got married to another famous Italian woman, Lucrezia Borgia.

There is a funny, charming scene where Giorgio Locatelli views an original copy of the first cook book of Italy at the old Palatino Library in Parma. And there is a beautiful look at Corregio's fresco in the dome of Parma Cathedral.

The information is  perfetto , all in good humour and with lots of charm. 

Good TV- experience. I'm looking forward to the next.


Buona notte!













Friday, January 15, 2016

Thyme, Timian





Thymus vulgaris
Thymus vulgaris


Thyme is a half bush with square stalks, green leaves, dark violet, white or pink flowers. The herb has a very pleasant aroma which attracts honey bees.

Thyme is today a wellknown and popular spice herb all over the worl. The plant originated in the Mediterranean  regions and is known from time immemorial. It is an evergreen herb with culinary, medicinal and ornamental uses. The most common variety is Thymus vulgaris. Thyme is of the genus thymus of the mint family lamiaceae and a relative of oregano and it is one of the oldest spice herbs. It was already mentioned by the Sumerers 5000 BC. The Greek word thymus means power. The herb grows wild in all of southern Europe and is found up to a height of 1000 meter.










Ancient Egypt, Anubis attending embalming of mummy
Ancient Egyptians used thyme for embalming. The ancient Greeks used it in their baths and burnt it as incense in their temples, they believed it was a source of courage. The Greeks wore it on the breast and took a thyme bath before they went to war. Olympic masters were garlanded with thyme. The spread of thyme throughout Europe was thought to be due to the Romans, as they used it to purify their rooms and to "give an aromatic flavour to cheese and liqueurs".

Fairy, Midsummer Eve, E.R. Hughes 1908




In the European Middle Ages, the herb was placed beneath pillows to aid sleep and ward off nightmares. In the days of chivalry ladies would embroider a bee hovering over a sprig of thyme to present to their champions at the tournaments.  The association with magic and fairies was particularly noticeable during Shakespeare's time. In the Ashmolean museum in Oxford is a recipe dated 1600 that includes thyme, which will enable one to see the fairies. Medicinally thyme has been associated with the treatment of depressions. Thyme was also used as incense and placed on coffins during funerals , as it was supposed to assure passage into the next life.

 






In Denmark 
Thyme was a daily spice upon the king's dinner table in the summer 1541,  and it is mentioned in 1613 about some purchase of thyme seeds to the royal garden at Skanderborg Slot. In 1650 as a cut thyme-frame of garden beds; it had to be cut two days before New Moon. The thyme plant was known by both rich and poor in Denmark. Yearly was sowed and plant numerous plants - and people said that "it was really not necessary to tell everyone that they used thyme in the kitchen every day -  for everyone knew that it was one of the finest food herbs". 

In a market today

Gardeners from Funen sold in the 1700s seeds and plants of thyme at markets in Holstein and Jutland, and it was probably exported to Norway.  Thyme was called craddle straw like other strongly scenting herbs which could drive away bed fleas. In the Middle Ages it was often called Virgin Mary's Bedstraw  (Jomfru Maries sengehalm) like another herb, yellow bedstraw. Thyme was also called bee herb, the honey bees love thyme  In autum thyme was bound into garlands around hoops and hung to dry in the ceiling and later at the attic for use in the next winter.

At the market in Copenhagen was in 1967 sold 295.000 bundles of thyme.




Thymus vulgaris : common thyme, English thyme, summer thyme, winter thyme, French thyme or garden thyme is a commonly used culinary herb. It also has medical uses. Common thyme is a Mediterranean perennial which is best suited to well drained soils and full sun.
(There are about 100 varieties of thyme) 



Thymus serpyllum , Boeslum, Mols, photo gb
In Denmark are two species of wild growing thyme:
1) *Thymus serpyllum (DK: smalbladet timian)is low and creeping and a very branchy halfbush with red flowers in dense heads, it is common in dry sandy fields and hills, in hedges,wickets, in dunes, in heathers etc like its very alike 2) Thymus pulegioides (DK: bredbladet timian

 Thymus serpyllum: wild thyme, creeping thyme is an important nectar source plant for honeybees. All thyme species are nectar sources, but wild thyme covers large areas of droughty, rocky soils in southern Europe, both Greece and Malta are especially famous for wild thyme honey. The lowest growing of the widely used thyme is good for walkways  It is also an important caterpillar plant for large and common blue butterflies.





Other varieties:

Thymus pseudolanuginosus: wooly thyme is not a culinary herb, but is grown as a ground cover.

Thymus herba-barona: caraway thyme is used both as a culinary herb and a ground cover and has a very strong caraway scent due to the chemical cavone

Thymus citriodorus, wikimedia
Thymus citridiodorus  - various lemon thymes, orange thymes, lime thymes. Lemon thyme is a creeping wintergreen plant with a strong lemon taste. It has blue flowers in June- July - it is a fine and useful plant, both in the herbal garden and the rock garden. As a medicine plant it is used against whooping cough, diarrhea and stomach pain. It has wound-healing properties and is used in mouth water, in gum inflammation and as a cover on wounds and scratches. As a spice herb it is used instead of lemon balm, fx in fish dishes and salads. A little twig of lemon thyme in the tea takes a bitter taste and sweetens the tea and makes sugar unneccessary. The plant thrives well in a sunny place in the garden in sandy soil. Spring and summer the plant easily takes roots. It grows fast and it keeps green in normal winters, but much bare frost might take the green.


The name of the genus of fish thymallus, first given to the grayling (T. thymallus described in the 1758 edition of systema naturae by Swedish zoologist Carl Linneaeus) originates from the faint smell of the herb thyme, which emanates from the flesh.


Garden



Herb garden, Boller slot, photo: gb
Garden thyme (Thymus vulgaris)  is a relatively  hardy plant which can withstand to be trodden on. It is very suited to be plant among the tiles and stones, where it will spread as a thick and scenting carpet. The creeping growth of thyme makes it a fine ground covering plant in many sunny beds of the garden, where it can prevent outdrying of the soil and keep down the weeds. It is also good in the rock garden.

Thyme seeds keep their viability for about 3 years. Thyme can grow in the same place in the garden for about 3-4 years, it can be cut down in spring to prevent the plant from getting lanky and wooden-like, old plants can be divided and plant again. Thyme can also sow itself  and these small plants can be plant out in the garden.

Thyme is suitable for planting in pots and bowls at the terasse, and since it is very drought tolerant it can be plant on the sunny places in the garden slopes. In England it is a popular thing to plant several varieties of thyme together in a lawn. It will quickly become an entwined carpet with flowers, scent and attraction to the bees.

To harvest in high season July-August: cut the stalks off and bundle them, put in small brown paperbags after drying, keep in bags until use in kitchen, crumble the bouquets over a sieve which gives a fine and smooth spice  - and it is easier to remove the little branches.

All thymes can easily be propagated with herbaceous cuttings,  many varieties of thyme tend to get a course growth if they are not cut back in spring. It is best to plant thyme in a sunny place, but else the plant is not asking much as for the soil. If a garden has some big areas it is popular to arrange thyme lawns with stepping stones, which is commonly seen in the English country garden. Every four years it is best to replace the plant, take cuttings from the second year on for this purpose.



The young thyme plants are the most vigorous, it is good to renew the plant each second year. Thyme likes a sunny place and its aromatic substances gets heavyer in the sunshine. If the garden-soil is heavy, mix it with sand or grovel, winter-cover is also a good idea, hard winters can eliminate the thyme in the garden. In dry periods thyme must be watered in spite of its hardiness.

Thyme was cultivated in the gardens of Thorshavn, the Faroes in 1780. 



Food



Thyme is sold both fresh and dried. While summer-seasonal, fresh greenhouse thyme is often available year round. The fresh form is more flavourful, but also less convenient; storage life is rarely more than a week. Although the fresh form only lasts a week or two under refrigeration, it can last many months if carefully frozen The plant can take deep freezes and are found growing wild on mountain highlands along the Italian Riviera, it is found from sea level up to 800 m.


Thyme retain its flavour on drying better than many other herbs.It is a common component of the bouquet garni and of herbes de Provence. The lovely aroma of thyme makes is very useful in the kitchen. The fresh leaves as a spice in meat, fish, poultry and in soups. Thyme gives a welltasting tea and is a good pickle spice fx for pickled beetroots, onions or in common pickles.The thyme flowers can be used as a decoration or mixed in a salad dressing, they have a sweet taste and are pretty as a decoration in every kind of dessert.

An old dish from  the Danish island Funen is called "sve". It is thyme and onion in sheep-blood, cooked  with oats to a thick porridge  


Thyme was added to sausage, cabbage and all slaughtering food  When the pig intestines were cleansed they lay until next use in water with a big bundle of thyme which removed eventual bad smell. 

Wild thyme is not worth using as a spice herb, but it was used as a spice in sausages and cabbage if people had no garden thyme. It was said that if a pig eat much thyme it would get a taste like wild boar.

Other Use
Thyme keeps colour and scent very well after drying and is good in a scent potpourri and to bring taste in a snaps







Folk Medicine/Medicine

Old pharmacy, Viborg Museum, photo gb
Thyme was used as a mild antiseptic herb for both outer and inner use, it was a good tea against insomnia, especially very hot and mixed with honey. Thyme was used in cough mixtures and in medicine for the digestive system , an oil from thyme was used to treat shingles.Thyme was also used against female diseases and  in chastity rituals.  Thyme was mixed into the bed straw against fever and dwindling sot  A decoction was used against whooping cough, croup and bronchitis. An oil essence and extraction of thyme was sold at the pharmacy as a cough medicine 

Thyme cooked together with other spice herbs and used as a cover on knots or bumps and bruises.  Thyme in very hot tea upon a sore tooth.  Oil from garden thyme added to mouth water against toothache. The Pharmacopoeia sold Thymus serpyllum and Thymus vulgaris in 1772.   At the Faroes the tea was used as a stomach strengthener and at Greenland the tea was drunk to heal manic insanity.

A tea of equal parts of thyme, peppermint, bay leaf  and camomile was used against fatigue.
medicine


The volative oil thymol, which gives the strong scent is very antibacterial and was in the past used to desinfect hospital tools.  In folk medicine it was used against menses-pain, diarrhea, coughs and
Old pharmacy jar, Viborg museum, photo gb
headache. It is still recommended up till present as a tea for a soar throat and hangovers. Thymol is extracted in the medicinal industry, it is used in mouth water, tooth paste and as a means against tooth ache, and as an ingredience in some desinfectants. The oil is a part of a medicine against whooping cough.









The old Physicians' Medicine:
old medicine bottes, Viborg museum, photo gb
Henrik Harpestræng ab 1300: thyme crushed with vinegar and rose oil in a balm against headache, a decoction was a part of food, so people did not get hurt by worms and other poisonous animals while they were sleeping in the field. Thyme was used as a cover on bites and poisonous stings. Poisonous animals flee from the smoke of burning thyme. 

Christiern Pedersen 1533
Thyme was part of a gout patch, and as a wine decoction against nausea,  the juice of thyme upon

haemorrhoids, crushed thyme mixed with salt was put upon fistulas and cancer. 

Henrik Smid 1546 
A decoction with thyme casts out slime of the kidneys and blatter and stops intestinal twisting,
he also uses thyme as an antidote in bites of posisonous animals. They  were driven away by the smoke from thyme  Thyme was a multi-medicine and used in all kinds of diseases. Mentioning a few: Thyme heals bowles which are sore after blood sot = dysentery; it strengthens the brain to smell to the plant, it can be put upon the head against dissiness, garden thyme cooked in wine is good for shortness of breath , drives out worms, poison, dead embryo etc. 

Simon Paulli 1648
Oil of thyme against head and kidney pain, clusters of garden thyme put in beer as a means for melancholia, wild thyme has empowering and expectorant properties. as a part of a balm it was in the 1700s used as a cover for headache and dissiness. Used in a tea against colic  A decoction to children with intestinal worms 







Farmhands chamber, Hjerl Open Air Museum, photo gb
Superstition; and against vermits
An advice to the farmer: Pluck thyme silently and put it under the first sheaf of straw, this will keep away the rats.
The bedstraw which was delivered to Christian 4. was mixed with thyme as a protection aginast bed fleas. or else it was said that wild thyme only drove away women's fleas and not men's fleas. 
Chicken with fleas or other vermins were smoked with thyme and hops. 
Against flea beetles put out thyme mixed with wormwood and garlic.








Replacement of tea, hops and tobacco.
Shag tobacco, wikipedia
Children in the country were sent out with a basket to pluck wild thyme, which was dried and gave a tea substitute in winter (1880) The tea was added sugar and cinnamon  An old saying was "this tea you must have when the windows are white" = when it is hard frost. Wild thyme tea was in the 1800s recommended as a substitute for hops Also in Greenland was wild thyme used as a tea 
InWWII thyme was dried into shag tobacco, and already in 1780-1800 they used the thyme as tobacco and to chew. 







Livestock 
Hjerl Hede Open Air Museum, photo gb
Thyme was a part of a cover upon the abscesses of the horse. Wine with crushed thyme was rubbed upon the tongue of a cow against heart- inflammation. Tea of thyme was used to bathe the cattle against the food and mouth disease. 














photo: market, Thymus serpyllum, pharmacy, Viborg Museum, Hjerl Hede Open Air Museum: grethe bachmann
other photos: wikipedia
Sketches: grethe bachmann  

Source:
Krydderurter i haven , Anemette Olesen, Politiken, 1996/1998. 
Danske klosterurter, Anemette Olesen Aschehoug 2001.
Brøndegaard, Folk og Flora, bd. 4, Thymus vulgaris.
Krydderurtehaven paa knatten , Annemarta Borgen,
A Garden Herbal Anthony Gardiner
Ceres Esplan Helbredende urter 1981, Hernovs forlag, oversat af Hans Henrik Sørensen og Michael Beck fra Vitskøl Kloster. Original titel: "Herbal teas, tisanes and loitions."



Monday, January 04, 2016

Old Customs in January




A ploughed field in January, photo: gb

January 1., New Year's Day :
It's a Helligdag (holiday) in Denmark and the other Nordic countries and an official flag day. New Year's Day was earlier called the Eighth Day of Christmas, but it was not always considered the first day of the year. Before Christianity came to Denmark it was probably Winter Solstice on 21/22 December which was considered the first day of the year. When Christianity gradually was accepted  the 25th december, the birth of Christ was the first day of the year for centuries. Not until the reform of the calendar in 1700 it seems that the first day of the New Year was commonly considered to be January 1. And still is!

Old Customs:
When the people in the farm woke up on New Year's morning they must not do anything at all before they had eaten something. After this the farmer went outside shooting the new year welcome like he had done the night before - if he had a gun! Then the household had a good and very solid breakfast. Later they all went to church, where they 'sacrificed' (mostly money) to the vicar and the parish clerk. The rest of the day people had a pleasant time with quiet pursuits.

New Year was always one of the big feasts and mærkedage (red-letter days) of the year. As early as around year 1000 (Canute the Great) it was decided that the eighth Day of Christmas had to be fixed  skiftedag' ( a notice day and a day on which servants used to change jobs). But most important were probably the omens from where the farmer read signs about the harvest of the year to come. The harvest was the most important thing of all. In the old society it was crucial, that there was food enough for the household, or else they had to starve in the next winter.

In the ancient societies they lived "from hand to mouth". Most omens had to do with the weather and the harvest situation. Up till the middle of the 1800s more than 90 % of the Danish population was living in the country and was completely dependent on the yields and the significance of the climate.

Superstition and omens for New Year's Day:
Like the weather is on this day, so it will be on Midsummer's Day.
On New Year's morning the farmer looked at the sky, for if the sky was red before sunrise the coming year would be marked with war, plague and bad weather in general.
Another omen said that if the sun on New Year's Day is shining as long as it takes to saddle a horse, then it will be a fertile year.
If you swept well indoors on New Year's Day, you would bring good weather to the harvest in the New Year.


Thursday, December 31, 2015

I prefer the open Landscape and the nearness of the Sea.....





ULF LUNDELL: Öppna Landskap 


















Jag trivs bäst i öppna landskap,nära havet vill jag bo,
några månader om året, så att själen kan få ro.
Jag trivs bäst i öppna landskap, där vindarna får fart.
Där lärkorna slår högt i skyn, och sjunger underbart.
Där bränner jag mitt brännvin själv, och kryddar med Johannesört,
och dricker det med välbehag, till sill och hembakt vört.
Jag trivs bäst i öppna landskap, nära havet vill jag bo.

Jag trivs bäst i fred och frihet, för både kropp och själ,
ingen kommer in i min närhet, som stänger in och stjäl.
Jag trivs bäst när dagen bräcker, d'r fälten fylls av ljus,
när tuppar gal på avstånd, när det är långt till närmsta hus.
Men ändå så pass nära, att en tyst och stilla natt,
när man sitter under stjärnorna, kan höra festens skratt.
Jag trivs bäst i fred och frihet, för både kropp och själ.

Jag trivs bäst när havet svallar, och måsarna ger skri,
när stranden fylls med snäckskal, med havsmusik uti.
När det klara och det enkla, får råda som det vill,
när ja, är ja, och nej, är nej,och tvivlet tiger still.
Då binder jag en krans av löv, och lägger den runt närmaste sten,
där runor ristats för vår skull, nån gång för länge sen.
Jag trivs bäst när havet svallar, och måsarna ger skri






 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuOUev9EgI8



the text is Swedish if you'd like to translate it.  





Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year






A Merry Christmas  and a Happy New Year to all my followers and readers. 

- and a peaceful New Year all over the world 

Best wishes
Grethe  














Friday, December 18, 2015

Mariager By, Mariagerfjord Kommune, Region Nordjylland





Today Mariager is a small town with 2527 inhabitants (2015). It lies on the southern side of Mariager fjord. Mariager lies in Mariagerfjord kommune and belongs to Region Nordjylland.
 
Mariager was a small village until the middle of the 1400, when a Bridgettine abbey was built. This

made the village grow into a market town with trade and handicrafts. There was later no effect on the town from the industrialization which means that it still has a medieval touch with many pretty old houses in the paved streets.

Mariager lies close to the beautiful Mariager fjord by the forested coast of the fjord. High slopes with forest rise behind the houses. Except for the abbey and its high tower all the houses are low. It was the Bridgettines who gave the town its name when they chose to place their Jutland abbey here and named it Mariager abbey. Mariager means Maria's ager = Maria's field (after Virgin Mary). 





There was already a small fishing village in the 1400s and a ferry for the traffic between the towns Randers and Aalborg, but the abbey meant economic progress for the village, and gradually flocked merchants, innkeepers and craftsmen to the town, and rich nobility began buying burial chapels by the church. Mariager abbey became a church of pilgrimage and one of few places in Denmark where people could buy indulgence for their sins. This made the church immensely rich.The pilgrims lead to a substantial revenue for the city's trade, and several guesthouses were built. The town's good times went on until the reformation in 1536, where the administration of the abbey was transferred to the Crown


 The decline for Mariager meant that when it finally got municipal rights in 1592 it had under 500 inhabitants. After this it was the raw materials together with fishing, farming and foresting, which made the basis for the income of the town. An important income was malt and spirits which were shipped to Copenhagen. 
Town Hall



Mariager got a pharmacy in 1816, and the town house was built in 1822  In 1829 a physician came to town and two years later a post office was established -  in 1853 a savings bank and street lights in 1859.  Mariager became service center for the hinterland and grew faster than in the abbey-period, but after the start of the Hadsund-bridge some of the trade moved to the town of Hadsund. 

Hotel Postgaarden

The old city section has kept its original street net, which forms an architectonic whole with old pavements and timbered, thatched houses, almost each house has a garden, which also gives a medieval mark. The town hall at the town square is classistic, the Hotel Postgården is from the 1700s and was earlier a vicarage, but since the 1800s it has functioned as a guest house. 



City Museum
Mariager city-museum is furnished in a pretty, old merchant house from the 1700s with an external gallery on the yard-side. Besides being a city-museum it has alternative art exhibitions and a kloster garden with medicine herbs. The town square is the most significant place in town. Here is also carved in the street a plan of the earliest parish church from the 1100s. 




by tourist and Saltcenter
The town has a small marina and a tourist boat
veteran railway site
Svanen which in summer sails from Hobro via Mariager, Hadsund and to the mouth of Mariager fjord. At the harbour is also Danmarks Saltcenter with café, a museum for salt mining, where people can visit a salt mine and a bathing salt lake with the byname Det døde Hav. A veteran railsway goes from the harbour to a small town Handest 17 km west. Mariager's landmark is Mariager klosterkirke from the 1400s, the tall building and tower stands on a hillside and rise above all the roofs of the town. 
by Mariager fjord

tourist boat Svanen

Mariager has a long tradition for preserving the town and its houses, and  it has a rich selection of special shops and grocery stores. Shipping and tourism also play a big role in the employments. 
Tourism is today considered the central income of Mariager.. In 2013 Mariagerfjord Kommune with Mariager by was certificated as a Cittaslow city. Cittaslow is a movement for cities which want to set focus on a more simple lifestyle. In Denmark are two cities certifacted: Mariager in Jutland and Svendborg at the island of Funen.






Assens between Mariager and Hadsund was earlier the home of a big part of Denmarks  cement industry. In the chalcerous soil in the chalk pits is one of the largest orchid presences in Denmark. The old smitty at Dania is a working museum and along the road by the fjord lie Assens Nyboder, the earlier houses of the workers from the factory.



Mariager klosterkirke was built in connection to the abbey in the 1400s. See my blog Church and Manor for article about Mariager abbey.




Source Danmarks Købstæder, Søren Olsen, 2000

photo: grethe bachmann

photo town hall: Google earth. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Parsley / Persille





Spice Herb




Parsley

Petroselinum crispum


Parsley Petroselinum crispum is a species of Petroselinum in the family Apiaceae, native to the central Mediterranean region and naturalized elsewhere in Europe - it is widely cultivated as a herb, a spice and a vegetable. The Latin name Petroselinum means "that which grows upon a cliff". Parsley was in ancient time shipped from Egypt to Greece and brought on to the Romans who brought it with them to Middle Europe. Today it is cultivated all over the world.








curly-leaf, wiki
Two main groups of parsley used as herbs are curly leaf and the Italian flat leaf group (Petroselinum crispum neapolitanum). The flat leaf group more closely resembles the natural wild species. 


In Denmark parsley is not a part of our wild flora but it is often seen feral from cultivating. Parsley is the spice herb most commonly used in Scandinavia.




flat-leaf, wiki
















Garden

The fresh look of the plant means that it can be cultivated among the flowers in the garden and it is a fine border plant in the kitchen garden. The ancient Greek gardens were often framed with a border of parsley. Flat-leaved parsley is preferred by some gardeners as it is easier to cultivate, it is more tolerant of both rain and sunshine and has a stronger flavor, while curley leaf parsley is preferred by others because of its more decorative appearance in garnishing. A third type, sometimes grown in southern Italy, has thick leaf stems resembling celery.



herb garden Vitskøl kloster/GB




Parsley is biennial, the second year arrive lots of umbels with yellowgreen flowers and with the characteristic two-piece fruits. After the blooming season the leaves have a bitter taste. Parsley is easy to cultivate but it takes 7-8 weeks before you see a hint of something above ground. In the old days it was said that it took such a long time because the little seeds had to go seven times to and from the devil to ask permission to get up. Each tour took one week. But when Christianity arrived all the poor little seeds had to go seven times to and from the pope before they could get up through the soil..
Devil, Fanefjord, Møn /GB













The seeds can be sowed directly in the earth or in pots in spring. Some give the advice to put the seeds in lukewarm water for 24 hours before sowing.  The seeds have a bitter taste and are not suited for food. Parsley does not require the big care, but the rows with the new plants must be kept free of weed and the earth must be loose  If the parsley stands in a very sunny spot it is necessary to  water them regularly. Parsley should never be cultivated in the same place two years in a row.















You can start to pluck the leaves as soon as the plant has achieved a fair size. If the plants get enough water they will grow well. Parsley tolerates low temperatures well and you will be able to pluck fresh parsly until Christmas. The plant can overwinter but likes to be covered with sprigs of spruce in the cold period, then you'll have the old plant to pluck in early spring until it blooms and withers, while the newly sowed parsley grows up and is ready for use in early summer. 

Before the cold weather arrives in the winter season the plant can be moved to a pot and brought inside.  When the leaves are plucked regularly the plant will remain fine and bushy. 
 
 A Greek proverb "to be in the parsley" means that you have just started something.







Kitchen 
Anna Ancher; In the Kitchen
Parsley can be used as aroma and flavor enhancer in various dishes like vegetables, sauces, soups, stew and fish. Parsley reconciles all kinds of flavor so they go up in an artitstic unit. Parsley leaves and root should be used while fresh, they should not be kept more than two days before use. The leaves loose quickly the C-vitamin contents which is also reduced by cooking 

Fines herbes is traditionally: estragon, parsley, chervil, chives.

Bouquet of herbs for bouillabaise: fennel, lovage, 1 stalk hyssop, parsley, thyme, basil, sage, a bay leaf, and a little whole allspice. 


Parsley can be frozen or dried, when it is dried it is easy to crush in the hand. When drying parsley the leaves easily grow yellow if the drying proces is too long. It is better to dry the leaves in an open oven by 35 degrees  The dried leaves are kept in a glass jar.

Fresh parsley is also suited for freezing. Put fx finely chopped parsley in the icecube tray and it is then ready to put into the sauce.  

After a big meal a cup of parsley tea or a little parsley in vegetable juice is good. If you chew parsley after meals with garlic or onion you'll get a fresh breath .

The difference between parsley and hemlock: crushed hemlock has a very unpleasant odor resembling cat piss. 
 






History

herb and flowers garland, wiki
Parsley is described in a Greek herbal in the 3rd century B.C. In the Middle Ages parsley was often called the Devil's herb. People were convinced it meant death if the plant was moved from its place. The ancient Greeks considered parsley a bad plant and as a symbol of death and therefore it was used in funeral rituals.

In Rome however parsley was very popular. A garland of parsley was said to stop drunkenness - and the Romans had already discovered its good qualities in the kitchen too. 

In Greek mythology the hero Archemorus took part in the Istmian Games -  religious festivals which were celebrated at the island Isthmos in honor of the god Poseidon. Archemorus was wounded and when the drops of blood fell to the ground the parsley grew up and a victory garland was made for him from the herb. The Greeks and Romans decorated themselves with festival garlands where bunches of parsley were braided together with other plants and flowers.

King Mithridates, king of Pontos, was a fine botanist who knew all poisonous plants. He murdered his own family with poison, but he was afraid of being poisoned himself, and he invented an effective antidote: thyme, coriander, rue and many other spice herbs and lots of parsley. Nero later improved the  recipe.

The Romans gave the gladiators parsley before they had to go to fight in the arena -  it had almost the same effect as the spinach had on Pop-eye whose arm muscles grew to the double !



Folk Medicine
Scuola de medicine wikipedia
Plinius, wikipedia
Parsley was also used as a medicine plant in Antiquitiy, but Plinius warned however people against eating parsley beause it might make men and women unable to have children. 

Plinius also wrote that the plant was useful to spread in a fish pond in order to cure sick fish.

Highly fragrant plants  had a prominent place among the contraceptives and here was the origin of the brides' myrtle wreath, which should manifest that she no longer needed to drink parsley tea. Since parsley is strongly diuretic and contractive with a strong effect on the uterus, parsley oil was in the past used as a means to induce abortion, The frivolous girls' streets in Paris were called "The Parsley Streets". 




Parsley is a useful drug as well as a well-tasting spice herb.In spite of some superstition parsley was highly appreciated in ancient times, also as an effective aphrodisiac. The doctors prescribed it in medicine for almost all everything. It was also in great demand as for gastronomy -  and Galen said about 1800 years ago that it was a good and healthy herb to have in the garden. Culpeper said that parsley was ruled by Mercury who was the light messenger of the gods  Later he became the protector of the highwaymen and the god of trade.

parsley root, wiki

In medicine it was especially the root and the seeds of the plant which were used. They were a good help in bladder diseases, urinary infections, dropsy, kidney disorders. Soldiers in WWI, who suffered from kidney disorders associated with diarrhea, had prescribed parsley. Parsley's etheric oil contains apiol which irritates the kidneys and therefore works strongly diuretic. It is also used in rheumatic diseases, since it works conducive on the secretion  of accumulated waste products in the body. 

parsley seeds, wiki

As said above parsley is strongly diuretic and well suited for the treatment of urinary infections and for water retention, parsley stimulates the uric acid excretion and is good for gout, it increases the amount of breast milk and works stimulating in the musculature of the womb. It is the cause using parsley in migraine, asthma and other conditions which have to do with cramps in the smooth musculature. The substance apiol, which is a part of the etheric oil, works however specifically stimulating on the musculature in the uterus. Apiol is by far the highest concentration of the seeds and pregnant women should not take parsley seeds or compositions made from these. 

Parsley , wiki
Parsley was like uniper berries a means against edemas and a good means against long bladder infections The parsley seeds were used in a decoct against malaria, and it was used as a painkilling medicine in neurological disorders. The fresh leaves were put on tumors and insect bites.It was also used in problems with prostate after an inflammation. A mix of chopped parsley, salt and oil was used against toothache. 

The fruits and the root are still used in folk medicine against kidney disorders and dysmenorrhea, intestinal colic and as a diuretic. 

Warning: Since the fruits -  because of the apiol-content - in large doses and for a  long times' use  can give severe liver damage, intestinal inflammations and even paralysis of the central nervous system they must be used with utmost care, 





Vitamines 
Parsley is extremely valuable as a nutrient. 
Lots of vitamin A, it is also one of the most valuable  C-vitamin plants which contains almost twice as much ascorbin acid as black currant. Besides this it has also considerable amount of B vitamin . Parsley has seven times more A vitamin than carrots and four times more than in Spinach and it is very rich in minerals. Parsley is also rich in iron and strengthens the blood.


Cosmetics

Decoct of parsley as face water or upon protruding veins. 
Parsley juice used to bleach freckles. 
Macerated in water used as a hair rinse.







Source:
Anemette Olesen: Krydderurter i Haven; Annemarta Borgen: Krydderurtehaven på Knatten; Helbredende urter, Politiken ; Li Hillker: Naturens egen lægebog;  Magna Leth: Havens Krydderurter; Lægeplanter i farver, Politiken ; Hans Wohlmuth: Lægeplanter og Krydderurter til husbehov.

foto: grethe bachmann
foto: wikipedia
sketch: GB