So I’m doing my research, and got off on a Rapunzel rabbit trail (it was a re-read of Marina Warner that sparked it, if you must know; Rapunzel was right next to Sleeping Beauty in that particular chapter). Of course, you know that Rapunzel is called that because her mother, when she was pregnant with the girl, had irresistable cravings for a salad made from rapunzels which grew in the witch’s garden next door, and when the father got caught stealing some for his wife, the witch made him promise to give her the baby in payment.
The sources all say that rapunzel is the German word for rampion, and I realised that I have no idea what either rapunzels or rampions are like. So I googled it, and came upon this very interesting page: “Planting Rapunzel”, by Paul O. Zelinsky. Zelinsky is a Caldecott-winning illustrator – in fact, he got the award in 1998 for his retelling/illustrating of Rapunzel, which, judging by the website, is a stunning piece of art indeed. You see, he did his research: he sent away for a packet of rampion seed, and planted a whole bunch so he’d have models to paint from. That web page chronicles the progress of the experiment, with photos.
Now that’s research I could get into, growing salad veg to study fairy tales. If anybody knows of a Canadian-accessible source for rampion seeds, do let me know. Meanwhile, perhaps I should make some lentil soup by way of researching “Cinderella”? I won’t throw them into the ashes of the wood stove first, though. The pigeons around here aren’t very reliable when it comes to sorting them out.