Ae'lons (Alliums) comprise the vegetables Weeproots, Onyons, Garlick, Leeks,
Shallots, Scallions, Ramps, Chives and are all characterized by their
pungent aroma and sharp flavour, these fresh multi-layered vegetables are
essential in any kitchen. From their white bulb to their hollow green leaves,
they vary mostly in size or scale, but the tear-bringing, mouth-watering scent
differs only subtly from sister to sister. Weeproots and their siblings may be
found in every garden but also grow wild across most of
Caelereth, making them one of the most
familiar tastes around. Indeed, the smell of frying Onyons, bringing with it as
it does the sense of homecoming, ease, and repletion, is enough to make children
leave their games, husbands drop their grudges, and, it is said, even soldiers
cease their warfare (see Legends, below). Weeproots are
also known as Reeking Lily, Ringroot, Signetbulb, Belchers, Teargrass, Cow’s
Delight, No-kisses, Weepchilder, Togaenul (Thergerim:
Appearance. All parts of the Weeproot family, known as Alliums, or in Styrásh as "Ae'lon" ("tear"), are edible and delicious. However, the Ae’lons often contain a potent vapour that mists from the cut vegetable; in most sentient races this causes streaming tears, and, in humans and halflings, the tears are accompanied by a runny nose. Brownies are limited to the usage of the chives and the mildest scallions, as the larger globe Weeproot’s scent has been known to render them almost insensible with streaming eyes, seared nasal passages, and difficulty breathing for weeks.
Most Ae’lons have a white bulb or ‘root’ which grows in rings (actually spheres) out from a central core. The Onyon, Weeproot, and Shallot (from the largest to the smallest) have orb-shaped bulbs, while the Leek, Scallion, and Ramp have elongated cylinders, and longer, flatter leaves. Chives have miniscule bulbs and are mostly prized for their slim, hollow, and flavourful stalks, while Garlick is unique in having several sections or ‘cloves’ within a papery outer shell which forms the globe of the bulb.
The orb bulbs, when harvested, can range in size from that of a taenish egg to the size of a hobbitling’s head. The average size – usually assumed in receipts – is about the bulk of a human woman’s clenched hand. Scallions and Shallots can both be harvested early for tiny, pearly ‘babe-salats’ (as immature vegetables are called), but this is generally considered a luxury dish, enjoyed in the summer as a ‘first-fruits’ indulgence.
Territory. All members of this family grow in both wild and cultivated forms. The wild forms, unusually enough, are less, not more, strongly flavoured, but can be used and prepared in the same way. Weeproots prefer a lot of water and not too much sun. Dwarves have had great success with some hybrid breeds of Togaenul which actually thrive underground, getting only a few candlemarks of magelight each day. The entire plant grows pearl-white, stems and leaves as well, but the same rich flavour and crunchy texture has been bred true. Ramps, leeks and shallots seem to like the moist shaded earth at the edge of forest clearings, while chives are found in their characteristic tussocks almost anywhere that grass will grow.
Usages. All parts of the Ae'lon family can be used in cooking and flavouring food; usually the bulb of the Weeproot, Leek and Shallot, and the stems of the Chives are the most popular. The bulbs are sliced and often fried, or added to stews, soups, and other savoury dishes. They can be roasted with meat, or skewered and grilled over a flame.
From golden ‘Weeproot Soup’ to ‘Weeproot and Squilla Forcebread’, from ‘Weeproot with Mushrooms’ to ‘Boar stuffed with Weeproot’, there are literally hundreds of receipts which incorporate the Weeproot – its culinary usages are renowned. This tasty, multi-purpose bulb is also used medicinally; some believe consumption of Weeproots will prevent against the ague, while others swear by an Weeproot poultice for trouble of the lungs, chest, or throat. Orcs are said to eat the raw bulbs of Weeproot directly from the ground, wiping the dirt off on their thighs and biting into them as a man might an apple.
The “Reeking Lily” has its own subtle variation on the Ae’lon flavour, being rich, almost buttery, and mellowing into an earthy, sweet paste when roasted in the coals. This paste can be squeezed directly out of the blackened papery shells onto meats or into sauces, lending its unique garlick flavour and healthful qualities both at once.
Brownies enjoy small stands of chives planted at the edge of their crops to provide shade and repel insects, and the puffy purple flowers the size of a Brownie's head are an additional decorative bonus. Chive flowers are often soaked in oil or vinegar to flavour the liquids for later use in subtle cuisine. For certain specialty cheeses, the dairymasters will have the cows grazed in chivemeadows, keeping the product of that day’s milking back to produce a redolently-flavourful curd which they then stud with the dried purple florets of the chive blossoms. The thin hollow stems of chives, of course, are often sliced into eyren dishes, added to mashed and baked tuberroots, or chopped into soups for extra colour and taste.
The sharp-tasting leaves of Ramps are popular as a spring tonic salad, refreshing the body after a winter of root and dried vegetables. They can also be substituted in most of the afore-mentioned usages, though the flavour will be more sour and less subtle.
There is the legend from the time of Katya
the Just that the men of two villages went out to war upon each
other; their wives, distraught, came together to plan how they might best stop
the anger. Each woman went home to her cottage patch, or out to the forest’s
edge, and harvested every Weeproot and Onyon she could lay her hands upon. Then
chopping them fine and rousing up the fire
under the pan, the women of both villages stirred and fried and opened their
doors, that the wind might take the scent
to the battlefield. And as that aroma of homely food and wifely toil came to the
men’s noses, they downed their weapons and
began to quietly back away. Drawn by the fry-smell and by memories of happier
times, each man came to his own home, and his wife waiting to talk peace into
his ears, and a goodly mess of fried Weeproot to go with his meat that night!
It is known that Onyon poultices will aid in curing grippes and miasmas, agues and catarrhs. It is also believed that they can cure boils, warts, and babe’s colick. But too many Ae’lons of any kind will stir up wind and cause flux, so it should not be overdone!
Human peasants of the Rimmerins Ring say that Chives are the spirits of a vanished “Purplebark Brownie” tribe. - Oh, and surely everyone knows that the scent of Weeproots will keep dragons away... don't they?
Information provided by Bard Judith