When I was young, I could tell if we were in a fancy restaurant by whether or not there was a sprig of curly parsley on the plate. I thought it was stupid of course. Why put something on the plate if you were not expected to eat it. It's a plate, this is a restaurant, for eating, right? I didn't like the word garnish, on principle. I tried eating the parsley, with mixed results. Sometimes it tasted good, sometimes terrible. My mom pointed out that as a garnish, it wasn't meant to be eaten, and therefore might not be washed as well. This comment ended my inquisition into the delicacy.
This Christmas I bought a cook-book for Lailielle. I imagine it sounds like a terrible present to give to a girlfriend. It would be selfish if not for the caveat accompanying. "This is for you, but if you leave it here, I'll use it to cook for you when you visit." She accepted the gift gracefully and promised to leave out my addendum when describing her gift to coworkers and friends. We can't have anyone thinking I'm nice after all.
I have been going through a lot of parsley since then. At least a bunch every week. The book often calls for a 'handful' of herbs and suggests flat parsley more often than anything else. I am in the early process of taking instruction from a cook-book and Laili has had to remind me more than once that when the author suggests a 'handful' she might not be imagining the pair of 10 inch mitts I'm packing. "This tastes green" is often a compliment I have received upon presenting her with a new dish.
When we go out to restaurants I notice how hard a lot of places try to stand out. I like truffle oil just fine, but putting it on the menu doesn't mean much anymore now that everyone's doing it. There seems to be an endless supply of obscure sauces and ingredients to play out. I think if I had a restaurant and I wanted it to stand out in the minds of patrons, I would eschew all the hype and just stick a piece of curly parsley on the plate. I'd wash it well of course so people could legitimately argue that it wasn't just a garnish.