Onions, Vulgarity, And Crime

“There is, one must admit, a certain association of vulgarity with the onion. It is a valuable food, and an indispensable accessory to the culinary artist; but as used by many people it is not suggestive of refinement. And yet the bulb has not only an honourable character – it has a sort of sacred history.

“Both Pliny and Juvenal, among old writers, and many Egyptologists of our own time and country, have recorded that the ancient Egyptians worshipped the onion. It is true that Wilkinson, who wrote on the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, doubts the evidence of this; but he adds that the onion was admitted as a common offering on every altar, and that the priests were forbidden to eat it. In Ellis’s History of Madagascar it is noted that the Malagasy of our time regard the onion as unclean, and forbidden by the idols.”

But the onion can be a weapon in the fight against crime!

“Ovid… says that both onions and sulphur were given to criminals to purify them from their crimes, upon the old theory of purgation by fumigation.”

Extracts from Storyology : Essays In Folk-Lore, Sea-Lore, And Plant-Lore by Benjamin Taylor (1900)

One thought on “Onions, Vulgarity, And Crime

  1. It is surely impossible to speak too highly of the onion. As Larkin (almost) put it somewhere in ‘The Whitsun Weddings’:

    If I were called in
    To construct a religion
    I should make use of onions.

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