Chervil is a very useful plant. Its growth habit is much like parsley, but with finer, fernier leaves. These possess a flavour of mildness and subtlety not frequently found in other culinary herbs. Chervil tastes like mild parsley with an overall sense of anise, or licorice. The fresh tasting leaves add a lively element to salads and light sandwiches. Sprinkled on soups or stews (always at the end of cooking, as the freshness of chervil quickly fades), it acts as an appealing garnish, and imparts its own character in dishes. Chervil also compliments eggs, potatoes, and fish.
Chervil thrives in partial shade and slightly damp conditions. It is one of very few food plants that can grow in such conditions, but it also makes a fine ornamental plant. Chervil is a perennial plant, but is normally grown as an annual in our climate. It will likely self-sow, and may endure very mild winters. In summer, attractive umbels of tiny white flowers rise above each plant.
As a culinary and medicinal herb, chervil has been in use since early Roman times. It grew wild in southeastern Europe and the Middle East. Some herbalists continue to recommend it to increase fluid retention, and in the treatment of eczema, rheumatism, and even jaundice.
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