Herbs As Garnishes

As garnishes several of the culinary herbs are especially valuable. This

is particularly true of parsley, which is probably more widely used than

any other plant, its only close rivals being watercress and lettuce,

which, however, are generally inferior to it in delicacy of tint and

form of foliage, the two cardinal virtues of a garnish.

Parsley varieties belong to three principal groups, based upon the form

/> of the foliage: (1) Plain varieties, in which the leaves are nearly as

they are in nature; (2) moss-curled varieties in which they are

curiously and pleasingly contorted; and (3) fern leaved, in which the

foliage is not curled, but much divided into threadlike parts.

The moss-curled varieties are far more popular than the other two groups

put together and are the only ones used especially as garnishes with

meat dishes in the hotels and restaurants of the large cities. The

plain-leaved sorts cannot be compared in any way except in flavor with

the varieties of the other groups. But the fern-leaved kinds, which

unfortunately have not become commercially well known, surpass even the

finest varieties of the moss-curled group, not only in their exquisite

and delicate form, but in their remarkably rich, dark-green coloring and

blending of light and shade. But the mere fact that these varieties are

not known in the cities should not preclude their popularity in suburban

and town gardens and in the country, where every householder is monarch

of his own soil and can satisfy very many aesthetic and gustatory desires

without reference to market dictum, that bane alike of the market

gardener and his customer.

Several other herbs--tansy, savory, thyme, marjoram, basil, and

balm--make pretty garnishes, but since they are not usually considered

so pleasant to nibble at, they are rarely used. The pleasing effect of

any garnish may be heightened by adding here and there a few herb

flowers such as thyme or savory. Other flowers may be used in the same

way; for instance, nasturtium.

There is no reason why herbs so used should not be employed several

times over, and afterwards dried or bottled in vinegar if they be free

from gravy, oils, fats, etc., and if in sufficient quantity to make such

a use worth while. Other pretty garnishes which are easily obtained are

corn salad, peppergrass, mustard, fennel, and young leaves of carrot.

But surpassing all these in pleasing and novel effects are the curled,

pink, red and white-leaved varieties of chicory and nasturtium flowers

alone or resting upon parsley or other delicate foliage. So much by way

of digression.