The Parsley In The Butter

Googling for a phrase that crossed my mind, looking to see whether it had been used before, I came across a quote from Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Adventure of the Six Napoleons’

You will remember, Watson, how the dreadful business of the Abernetty family was first brought to my notice by the depth to which the parsley had sunk into the butter upon a hot day.

I can imagine a smile and a rumbling laugh lighting up Conan Doyle’s face as he dreamed up that wonderful sentence.

Here is the sentence again, with the sentence before it to give it a bit more context.

The affair seems absurdly trifling, and yet I dare call nothing trivial when I reflect that some of my most classic cases have had the least promising commencement. You will remember, Watson, how the dreadful business of the Abernetty family was first brought to my notice by the depth to which the parsley had sunk into the butter upon a hot day.

4 thoughts on “The Parsley In The Butter

  1. And to which my strange mind replies:
    Is parsley normally served upon the butter? And then: I suppose in England such an extreme amount of heat might not be a common occurrence? (All this as I am outside, here on the chaise longue, soaking up this extraordinarily lovely Summer weather while I can (we really hadn’t had any Summer thus far; ) ; )

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    1. In well-to-do households a sprig of parsley was placed on the pat of butter on the dining table as a garnish, not to be eaten. Your question prompted me to google for whether parsley repels insects (apparently it does) so that may be the origin of embellishing butter with it.
      Our summer was a poor thing, and now fled.
      The chaise longue sounds delightful.

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      1. Yes, not so much now, but when I was younger, a sprig of parsley as garnish was de rigueur on virtually every dish served in every restaurant of any size here in Canada, so your googling result would explain that (compulsive; ) practice, thank you!

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