The French regard chervil as one of the essential herbs. In fact, it is the finest herb in the classic French fine herbes mix with parsley, chives and tarragon. Chervil, or cerfeuil in French, has the feathery green leaf look of the unlikely love child of a carrot and parsley. The flavor, however, has a hint of anise blended delicately with tarragon.
Fresh chervil is often used tossed in salads, and Julia Child recommended adding chervil to scrambled eggs. Recently, chervil is showing up as a trendy garnish on some restaurant plates.
Chervil is best used fresh and is difficult to find since it must be used in two or three days — a very short life span for an herb. Although chervil is available through local wholesalers to area restaurants, most area produce departments do not carry it. The produce department at Harris Teeter Morrocroft reports they will order it, but they don't carry it on a regular basis.
Chervil can be found at area farmer markets, but the growing season for chervil is nearing an end since this plant originated in mountainous regions and prefers cooler weather and long nights. Although their spring crop is exhausted, the farmers at Tega Hill Greenhouses (Tega Cay, S.C.) will have a new crop of chervil next October. But if you need chervil now, Mary Roberts of Windcrest Farm (a certified organic farm) will have chervil at the Matthews Community Farmers' Market (188 N. Trade St., Matthews), now open Saturday from 7:15 a.m. until 12 p.m.
Looking for a food you can't find? Or do you know of other food items unique to the Q.C.? Whether it's regional foods or international, talk to me: [email protected] or 704-522-8334, extension 136.