Saturday, October 23, 2010

On The Origin of Leeks

We all know that Joe The Plumber hates leeks about as much as Todd Palin does, or about as much as Poppy does.

There are many large businesses who pay their people well to suppress leeks in many ways, including programs using large volumes of music, video, comforting desserts, authorities, and the like, to draw attention away from the food value of the lowly leek.

Some serious, concerned professionals who have looked into the leek problem, are now revealing much we did not know about leeks:
"The leek probably has been cultivated throughout history. As for the Mediterranean origin of the leek, this does not seem true to the nature of the plant.

Leeks are one of the hardiest vegetables. They can be left in the ground all winter as long as the temperature does not drop below 10 degrees. Leeks also are less resistant to heat.

In colder climates leek seeds can be planted in autumn or early winter. They will survive the cold and grow in the spring. Leek plants can be put in the ground two months before the normal date of the last spring frost.

Leeks often are planted in shallow trenches, like asparagus, and the soil is heaped up around them to blanch the long root — its most delicious part. However, if they are buried too deep where it is warm, they may rot.

With all of that information, it is readily assumed that leeks did not originate in the warm Mediterranean climate. But where did the leek come from?

There is an Irish legend about its origin. St. Patrick was consoling a dying woman. She told him that in a vision she had seen an herb floating in the air, and that it had been revealed to her that unless she ate it she would die. The saint asked her what kind of herb it was. She told him that it looked like rushes. Thus St. Patrick transformed some rushes into leeks; she ate them and was cured.

You might not want to believe this legend, but the Irish regard leeks as their own vegetable. However, on the opposite shore of the Irish Sea, the leek is the national emblem of Wales. On St. David’s Day, Welshmen wear bits of leek in their buttonholes in memory of the victory of King Caldwallader over the Saxons in 640 A.D. In this battle the Welsh avoided striking the wrong fighters by wearing leeks in their caps as an identifying badge.

The cult of the leek in Wales also goes back to the annual spring plowing festival. On this occasion each participant contributes a leek to the communal stew, which is served at the festival."
(Plugging the leaks about leeks). Who knew, especially since even Google Scholar sometimes has them in its midst?

The next post in this series is here.

Eat more chickin leeks:

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