It never ceases to amaze me the plethora of different ways in which people hundreds of years ago were connected to their vegetables, and the interesting – and sometimes odd – ways that they put them to use. Then again, I suppose it’s not so hard to imagine as people would have simply used whatever was available, and during the growing seasons in particular people in rural areas would have had plenty (providing it was a good year, I would think) of vegetables to use. The majority of folks lived in rural areas as well back then, so they would have been much more connected to the soil and all of the wonderful vegetables and plants they grew – and even more so to the plants that were not cultivated but simply were there for their enjoyment in the wild. The Welsh, it seems, felt particularly connected to their leeks .
Did you know that the leek is the national emblem of Wales? I sure didn’t. The reason they chose this lowly little plant is obscure, but the most anyone has so far determined the Welsh used it as cap badge to distinguish a friend from an enemy. Apparently, St. David advised the Britons on the eve of a battle with the Saxons, to wear leeks in their caps so that they knew who was a friend and who was a foe. This is thought to secure a great victory. And all because of a vegetable!
In any event the leek is firmly associated with the Welsh today. Leeks are worn on St David’s Day. It is still a surviving tradition that soldiers in the Welsh regiments eat a raw leek on St David’s Day.
Have a taste of this distinguished vegetable today in one of Chef Steve’s creations:
Cream of Potato and Leek
Wild Rice, Barley, Navy Bean Vegetable (featuring organic Kale from our very own UBC Farm) (vegan)