This week, here in the UK, we celebrate the seven-hundredth wedding anniversary of Sage and Onion.
The two were married in a cauldron when a banquet was being prepared for King Gareth-Barry of Wales, at Castle Dunsinane, when he was entertaining King Duncan of Ireland and King Cardun of Norway.
It was Garth-Barry’s turn to host this annual occasion and then to supervise the forthcoming….‘Face Powdering Contest.’
(Think about it, all three nations have strange peculiarities and it was 1314!)
The tournament was to be staged in the nearby tiny village of Macbethy, famous for its competitive pigeons!
In order to tenderise these tough but fit Welsh birds, sage and onion was smeared on the flesh and then added to the usual cooking wine in which they were to be poached.
At the end of the meal, which was enjoyed by all, both King Gareth-Barry’s son, Prince Carwyn and his Queen, Queen Faulkner died! (I know it’s a strange name for a girl, but that’s not my fault. Blame history) They had been using a forerunner to toothpicks, sharpened twigs, to remove the succulent remaining meat from the pigeons bones, but then swallowed them; whole!
Garth-Barry blamed the cook and her maid. In a violent temper he burns both, scattering their ashes on a field normally used for growing daffodils.
HOWEVER…………………..Stay focused, I’m getting there.
An exact year from that tragic night a vast crop of aromatic sage, along with ripe onions, miraculously appeared from the hitherto barren ground. This sent the locals into a joyous dance of drunken merriment and glee. Such was their excitement no one noticed King Gareth-Barry fall from his horse, whilst riding towards the party, under a combined barrage of English, Scottish and Irish arrows. Annoyed at the noise, the neighbours had invaded!
Thus was the beginning of the legend surrounding The Powder Plot.
Now, every November 5th, bundles of dried sage with chopped onion are tied to fireworks and ceremoniously setoff, whilst facing in the direction of Wales, in a United Kingdom attempt at appeasing the wrath of King Gareth-Barry.
If, prior to reading this, you believed that Catholics or, perish the thought, Shakespeare had any connection to November 5th or Castle Dunisnane, you have now been enlightened!
© 2014, Danny Kemp. All rights reserved.