Well, what do you need to know about leeks?
Leeks are a member of the onion family. The Roman Empire grew them for their more refined flavour than the stronger onion.
Apparently, Emperor Nero was partial to them as he believed they would improve his voice. He ate so many that he gained the nickname Porophagus (leek eater).
Also eaten by the peoples of Ancient Egypt and Greece, leeks are the original superfood.
They are high in fibre, vitamin B and other heart-protecting substances like flavonoids and polyphenols.
Leeks Saved Wales!
Legend has it that the humble leek saved Wales during the Battle of Heathfield in 633AD.
The Welsh army was persuaded by a Celtic monk named David that they needed to be identified in battle by wearing an emblem. The emblem chosen was a leek worn in the soldier’s helmet.
The Welsh led by King Caldwallader beat the Saxons in battle and the tradition of proudly wearing a leek is continued to this day.
For his actions, David the monk, now St David is celebrated each year.
During this period the leek also acquired mystic virtues. These include claims that girls who slept with a leek under their pillow on St David’s Day would see their future husband in their dreams.
Leeks and St Patrick
The Irish too have their own legend regarding leeks.
A dying elderly woman had a vision that showed her a floating herb that looked like rushes. The vision revealed that she must eat the rushes or die. St Patrick consoled the woman and transformed some rushes into leeks, which she ate. Miraculously the woman recovered.
My Thoughts on Leeks
I can’t claim any miraculous cures or battle honours from leeks but I do know they taste really good and make a versatile ingredient in any kitchen.
Personally, I like them braised and then finished under the grill with a sprinkling of parmesan.