PARSLEY, a forced collaboration (#070)
A forced collaboration
Various plants and trees owe their existence to a metamorphosis. The great spotted woodpecker is really a bewitched king and the fireweed resulted from the love between an elf and a gnome. Parsley also came into being by virtue of an enchantment. Listen to my tale:
Once upon a time a king and queen lived in a land of great wealth and good fortune. They had a daughter, Liley, and a son Parsival. Ley and Pars for short. However, the king and queen had good reason to be sad. Their two children were always quarrelling and were experts at upsetting each other’s lives as much as possible. One day the queen suggested they should consult a wise woman living in the dark forest whom she had heard a lot about. After listening in total silence to the problems with the children, the woman closed her eyes and remained sitting without moving an inch. When she finally opened her eyes again, she said: “I know how to get your children to grow close and in such a way that they will never be able to do without each other.”
The parents cried out in relief: “Well, if that’s possible, it would be amazing!”
“But”, continued the woman, ”if they are to live like this, you will lose your children. You will be able to see them, you can care for them, but they will no longer be your children.” The king and queen looked at each other in dismay. What should they do? Give their children a happy life and lose them? Or have children who continually made each other’s life and theirs a misery.. After the king had sighed many sighs and the queen had shed many a tear, they asked the woman to do what was needed to make their children happy. “Go home, choose a patch of earth in your garden that gets the full sun and clear it of any weeds or other plants. Then ask your children to join to you there and you will see what happens after that.”
The king and queen returned home and carried out the instructions exactly as they had been told. And suddenly the old woman appeared in their garden. She caught hold of the bickering children by the arm and said: “From now on things will be different. You Pars, will take care of your little sister and give her what she needs. And you, Ley, you will always be thinking about what Pars needs and you will give it to him.”
At this the old woman disappeared into thin air. Pars turned into a root system and disappeared into the earth. Ley turned into a beautiful sprig of delicate green leaves, remaining above the earth and yet connected to Pars’ root system below. The royal couple were speechless. They heard Pars calling out: “If you think I’m going to supply you with food from the earth, dream on. Your problem!”
“You want oxygen?, retorted Ley, “Come and get it yourself!”. As a result they grew weaker and weaker. Pars because he could get no air and Ley because she was starving. Then suddenly the desperate parents saw Ley straightening herself and heard Pars calling out: “Ley, here! Take the food. But give me some air. Please. Now. I’m almost suffocating!” And at once the plant began to thrive in every way. It was a delight to the eye.
The king and queen called the plant ParsLey. To this very day the brother and sister work together and are inseparable.
Garden parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a very well-known kitchen herb. The leaves and stems are rich with vitamins and minerals. Both curly and flat leaf parsley are used for cooking. The wild variety, corn parsley (Petroselinum segetum), is an endangered species and is only found in Flanders with Zeeland Flanders as its most northern habitat. There are poisonous lookalikes which are nonetheless easy to distinguish from the garden parsley: the common fool’s parsley. This belongs, however, to a different genus (Aethusa cyapium).