Parsley is native to the central Mediterranean [from Iran through Italy and southern Europe, through North Africa]. In ancient times in the Mediterranean, parsley wreaths were used to ward off drunkenness.
The parsley leaves look a bit like cilantro leaves and, in fact, the two are related. Of the two, parsley leaf has a much milder flavor, and lacks the "soapy" quality that cilantro detractors often mention.
Today, parsley leaf is used widely in Mediterranean and American cooking. Parsley leaf compliments the flavor of chicken, eggplant, eggs, fish, game, lentils, mushrooms, mussels, pasta, peas, potatoes, poultry, rice, seafood, tomatoes, zucchini, lemon, and of other spices and herbs. Parsley is a component of bouquet garni used in soups, stocks and sauces. Parsley leaf is also a key ingredient in tabbouleh [the national dish of Lebanon], and in the omnipresent Italian gremolata [parsley, garlic, and lemon zest].
Stir a handful of parsley flakes into your ricotta cheese for your lasagna, or put some dried parsley leaf into your bread crumbs for breading chicken, veal or eggplant, for "that classic look."