Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Onion Rings II

So often I find that if you dig deeply enough, you'll find something. Google presents "the first 10 items with a total of 47,365" and what follows had to be 9,651.

Long ago, a community near Transylvania, a part of Romania, was plagued by a viciously cruel, very wealthy man who was utterly depraved. No one was quite sure where he came from (though rumors flew) but one day suddenly, the massive castle on the hill was occupied. It quickly became known that you didn't want to have anything to do with him. Some of the more superstitious villages said -- swore! --that they'd seen him turn into a bat!

Small children began disappearing from their cradles at night -- if they were seen again, they were odd; affectless, not the same toddlers they'd been prior to abduction.

But then, long periods would ensue, when no one vanished and all was well. At those times, however, it was noticed that the villagers' beet fields were ... strangely depleted. Crops weren't what they should have been. (The fields of garlic and onion on either side were untouched.) A writer at that time, Bram Stoker, working as an investigative reporter, wrote an entire book about the strange phenomenon in 1897.

The brightest guy in the whole village (the blacksmith -- having been exposed to travelers via horses that needed new shoes) figured it out. The rich man up in the castle was a vampire! He further deduced that the vampire might have been trying to cut back (or diet) and that explained all of the missing beets. He was praised as a hero and the villagers took to wearing a ring of onion or a clove of garlic suspended on a string around their necks. (The Village Idiot in a deliberate suicide bid, tied a beet around his neck, but his parents took it away and scolded him.)

Then one day, one of the village wives, always a clumsy woman, stumbled against a misplaced stool in her kitchen and nearly fell into the fire! Quickly she pushed away from the mantle but not before her slice of onion caught fire. Frantically, she beat out the fire (threatening to burn a hole in the bosom of her 3rd best dress) and then she noticed something ... the cooked onion smelled delicious! Hesitantly, she looked at it and then bit into it -- it was delicious!

Instantly the whole village began frying onions and eating them. Eager to take this discovery to the rest of Europe (and make a profit at something for once) the villagers fled in ecstasy at the very thought (money!) They were so euphoric about it all that this mass migration came to be called the "Hungarian Rhapsody."

Szerences Aprilisi Elso! (Hungarian for "Happy April 1")

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