Monday, August 15, 2011
What have the Welsh Leek and the Chinese Leek held in common?
The answer is leek has played a symbolic significant in their respective cultures. More so with the Welsh, since the middle of the 16th century, leek had been recognised as the emblem of Wales. Its association with Wales can in fact be traced back to the battle of Heathfield in 633 AD, when St. David, the principal patron of Wales persuaded his countrymen to distinguish themselves from their Saxon foes by wearing a leek in their caps. Thereafter it became the national symbol of Wales, and it is still worn by Welshmen on this day. As for the Chinese, leek is included in the traditional Chinese New Year food where each and every food in the list is a symbol of prosperity, good luck, health and long life for everyone at the table, either by its appearance or the pronunciation of its name. Don’t ask me why it is included in the list but I have held a long suspicion that it has gained its position through a language pun, the word for leek having the same sound as "count" in Chinese. Together with other good food to begin a new year, what is most appropriate than lets the counting of good blessing begins.
Although I am unable to buy Chinese leeks which have thicker leaves with a milder flavour and sweeten when cooked, I often replace it with Welsh leeks which are easily available in the supermarkets or stalls. Leeks are delicious in soups, quiche, pies, stir fries and pasta sauces. Always wash them before using them taking care to rinse any soil that may be lodged near the leaves.