(1) Purple Carrots and (2) The Sipping Mouse

Posted by Kitara Julian On 8:48 AM

Has anyone told their grocery store manager yet about the Purple cabbage (or purple onions or purple berries)? There seems to be something about “purple” through the ages which creates this problem of incorrectly calling things red or blue when they are really purple.

Did you know carrots were originally purple? They didn’t become orange until the 1500’s, when growers in the Netherlands used a mutant yellow carrot seed from North Africa to create a carrot the colour of the House of Orange. Begin to see what’s cooking? Purple = Vatican, Archbishop, Amethyst ring of the Pope. Then under Willem of Orange, purple carrots turn orange. Hmmm?

We were asked if any of my travel experiences stand out. One which comes to mind since we’re on the topic of food took place near Cadiz, Spain. It was a stopover during an assignment aboard “Marco Polo”. I went to Jerez de la Frontera and visited La Bodega Tio Pepe sherry winery. We were shown around the huge vats of sherry. Some had names painted on them such as Napoleon, Somerset Maugham and many movie stars, indicating their favourite vintages.

Suddenly I spotted something from the corner of my eye. It was a mouse. He was climbing up a tiny ladder, and began to sip from a terra cotta bowl.

I asked my guide what was happening. She laughed, “Ah, Senor, he’s just having a sip of sherry. Turns out many years ago, the owner caught a mouse in the act of nipping from his sherry glass, and nibbling a piece of cheese. Clearly a man with a sense of whimsy, he was tickled to see not only did the mouse enjoy an appetizer, but an aperitif as well. [When I tell this story, it reminds me how when you say to someone there are billions of stars above them, they say, “Oh yes, isn’t it wonderful.” Then, if they see a sign on a bench saying “Wet Paint”, they go over to check if it’s true.]

Anyway, management of Tio Pepe now have a few terra cotta bowls with Lilliput ladders scattered around the Bodega, so their little friends can imbibe. And now a picture of their sherry-sipping mice, ladder and all, can be found in their brochure.

"Cheers!” Or as we say back home, “May your children have rich parents.” Signing off, Henri

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