ONE OF the attractions of growing and using herbs is the feeling of connecting with women of different cultures and traditions who have, over the centuries, nourished their households and families with herbs for taste and flavor; as well as for health and healing.
This is a space to explore these miracle plants – exotic and indigenous - their culinary, cosmetic and medicinal qualities – to tap into the wisdom of centuries, the knowledge passed on through generations, and to take pleasure in the simple picking of a plant for nourishment of body and mind.
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme feature in a song by Simon and Garfunkel, made famous in the 1960s, but based on an English folk song from the 16th century. Interestingly though, parsley only came to Great Britain around that time, it’s natural habitat being the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey and Algeria.
All those herbs are growing in my garden today – a long way from their original homes – but happily established, and providing the mainstay of a common kitchen garden.
Parsley has cleansing medicinal properties and is beneficial for the liver and kidneys. It is also rich in organic iron and other minerals, so is helpful in anaemic conditions and as a tonic. Parsley tea is a refreshing way to use it medicinally. Make a strong tea by pouring boiling water onto half a cup of chopped leaves. Infuse and drink either hot or cold for bladder problems and as a cleansing tonic.
The cooled tea is a soothing face lotion, helping to reduce puffiness around the eyes and closing enlarged pores. Apply with cotton wool after cleansing.
As a breath freshener, parsely is said to remove all traces of onion and garlic if chewed fresh immediately after eating those strong bulbs!
One of my favourite ways to enjoy quantities of parsley is in the delicious Lebanese salad, tabbouleh. I prefer the flat leaved parsley and currently my garden is full of it!
A recipe for tabbouleh
Tabbouleh is made with bulgar wheat – a middle eastern speciality made of wheat soaked and cracked. A local substitute is Brek Weet – sold as breakfast porridge. Here’s the recipe:
- Soak a cup of Brek Weet in water for about an hour.
- Drain and squeeze out excess water.
- Add 1 cup of chopped parsley, 1 cup of chopped spring onions, 3 ripe chopped tomatoes and 4 tablespoons fresh chopped mint.
- Make a dressing of 100ml olive oil and 100ml freshly squeezed lemon juice – salt and black pepper to taste.
Sometimes when no crushed wheat is available I have made this using cold cooked rice, or soaked sorghum. Also delicious!
Yes – this is a lot of greenery – and it is really tasty and nutritious; guaranteed to wake up your taste buds.