A Fish and Onion Lunch

On September 11th, 1636, a short fat sailor bobbed his way along the quay at the port of Amsterdam. He had just come from delivering news of the arrival of a valuable cargo to a very wealthy merchant and was rewarded with a nice herring to take for his lunch. The onion that he discovered sitting on the table with the silks and velvets was a bonus that would add nicely to his meal. He loved onions.

He found a thick coil of old mooring lines not far from the receiving house and reclined right in the middle. The sun was shining brightly and a light salty breeze made the afternoon supremely pleasant. He smiled as he unwrapped the fish and laid it across his lap. He loved herring.

He dug his finger into the side of the fish and pulled out a thick bony chunk and popped it into his mouth. It was delicious. It felt good to be home. He had been away at sea for almost three years. As he ripped another hunk of herring, he wondered if Maartje was still as beautiful as when he last saw her. He loved Maartje.

“Whoops! Can’t forget this!” he said aloud and reached into his pocket and produced the onion. It was fairly small but he bit it in half anyway. It had a unique taste that went well with the herring.

When the irate merchant arrived a few minutes later with a group of soldiers, the last of the priceless Semper Augustus tulip bulb was making it’s way down the sailor’s gullet.

Usually, truth is stranger than fiction. The ridiculous, sublime. Whether this tale is true or not, you can always count on human nature. And in this case, the nature of man was to fill his belly.


Anonymous said...

Your mother had a book titled
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and
Madness of Crowds which had a
chapter on Tulipomania in Holland in the 1600's. There is an episode
similar to this in that chapter.

cyurkanin said...

I just found out I used the same source - Charles McKay wrote it in 1841. The tulip picture takes you to a reprint of it. Ibteresting that she had that book, though. Thanks Iggy.

Keane said...

Chris - fabulous imagery here, but best of all is the great hook. Well done.


cyurkanin said...

Thanks, Keane, personally one of the more enjoyable pieces I've written.