A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Friday, December 5, 2008


Yesterday at the grocery store a college-age boy was standing in the produce section looking confused. When I smiled at him he stopped me and asked me to help him. "I'm supposed to get parsley and rosemary," he said, "but I don't really know what I'm looking for."

It might have just been a line, but he really did seem confused. I showed him the (hideously expensive) prepackaged rosemary, labeled "Rosemary," and he said "Oh!" and nodded. But when I pointed out the parsley, he furrowed his brow. He reached out for a bunch, then drew his hand back. "This is cilantro right next to it," I said. "Don't get that." He looked at me, then back at the parsley. "Thanks," he said.

When I left the produce area he was -- I kid you not -- holding a bunch of parsley in one hand, staring at it, and scratching the back of his head with the other hand.

I wish I'd asked him what he was making (or who he was shopping for). Maybe he'd been told to get flat-leaf parsley, and they only had curly. Maybe he was high.

At a time when gourmet cooking and food snobbery is pushed on even the unwilling, it was kind of neat to remember that not everybody knows the same things. You and I could tell cilantro from parsley at fifty paces. That kid could not. So what? I wish I could make him dinner.


Kris said...

Maybe this boy should have been in the spice aisle buying a bottle each of dried rosemary and parsley--maybe he caught hell from the cook when he got home.

Seriously, I'm amazed that one can even buy dried parsley.

Mark Richardson said...

A lovely vignette.

Eva said...

Thanks, Mark!

Yeah, Mom, dried parsley is right there with dried mint as far as mysteriously useless dried herbs. Whatever their flavor compounds are, they seem to vanish entirely with drying. Dried basil is, sadly, not far behind.