How Onions saved Wales

Picture the following:

It’s 640 A.D in Wales. The Roman Empire has long ago packed up, went home, and divided into two separate “Empires”. The Saxons have moved into the neighborhood and have picking their battles, wanting to take over the Welsh lands. Other lesser Tribes are also on the loose, terrorizing the citizenry, picking fights, and generally making a nuisance of themselves.

The Welsh are a tad peeved at all of this. A gentleman going by the name of Cadwaladr is particularly irked, because some dude named Oswald had killed his father and was now getting all cozy with the aforementioned Saxons. Oh, and by the way. Cadwaladr’s Dad just happened to be King of Gwynedd – Gwynedd being an area of Northern Wales.

Cadwaladr wanted to make a name for himself in order to regain the throne (which had been usurped by someone outside of his bloodline). What better way was there to make a name for himself than by kicking some Saxon tuchus.

All of this sounded like a decent plan, except for one little detail. The Saxons looked an awful lot like the fine folks of Wales. Even more so when the Saxons dressed in the latest Welsh fashions , which is exactly what many Saxons did. You could see where this could lead to some difficulties. There you are, upon your mount, giving the order to attack the enemy, when some of your army either runs away, or starts attacking the rest of your troops (who had no idea why the Welshmen with the Germanic accents began smacking them with clubs).

At one battle, Cadwaladr decided he had enough. During the pitch of the battle, he shouted to all of his countrymen his fellow countrymen to wear a common piece of vegetation in their caps to distinguish themselves from their Saxon foes. That piece of vegetation turned out to be what we know to be the leek. Now that they could tell friend from foe, Cadwaladr’s troops routed the Saxons, Cadwaladr became king, and the leek became the national symbol of Wales.

Lucky for the Welsh that the pineapple isn’t indigenous in Northern Wales.

It’s a great story and legend. Alas, with most of the legends surrounding food, it doesn’t really pass the basic sniff test when anyone with a passing knowledge of history takes a look at it. For one thing, Cadwaladr would have been seven years old in 640. Secondly, what would have prevent the Saxons from picking up a leek and placing it in their caps?

But I’m not here to bury the story, but rather praise it. For as the cliche goes, when your telling a story, and you have the choice between telling the reality or telling the legend, one should always go with the legend. It keeps the audience more attentive.


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