That title must have got you going.

Far from being sensationalist, that is what I thought about at 4.00 am; the flesh of those lovely new potatoes I ate yesterday for lunch. Yes, the raison d’être of a potato is indeed described as flesh, which left me feeling somewhat disembodied and cold of flesh as the temperature took its final dip towards the iciest time of darkness at this time of year; the time when other vegetables, but not the potatoes, would be suffering outside in my garden.

Tramping as I was in the semantic field of the flesh, the words of the Liturgy just prior to receiving Communion, as quoted below, came to mind, and then I started wondering about all sorts of other prayers for long enough, mercifully, to fall asleep.

We do not presume to come to this thy Table (O merciful Lord) trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We be not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the Flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his Blood, in these holy Mysteries, that we may continually dwell in him, and he in us, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his Body, and our souls washed through his most precious Blood. Amen.

The Order of the Communion, 1548.
Imprinted at London, the .viii. daye of Marche in the seconde yere of the reigne of our sovereigne Lorde Kyng Edward thesixt: By Richard Grafton, printer to his moste royall
In the yere of our Lords M.D.XLVIII.
Cum priuilegio ad imprimendum folum.

Henry VIII is the one responsible for the Anglican Order of Communion, even though Wikipedia somewhat annoyingly seems to focus on his corporeal pursuits whether non-food [“Henry is best known for his six marriages”] or food [“As he aged, Henry became severely obese and his health suffered, contributing to his death in 1547.”].

For the sake of thematic completeness, it might be worth noting that the Tudor diet did not include potatoes, so my fleshly connection with Henry VIII is somewhat tenuous. We learn, however, that this Royal Personage thoroughly enjoyed a good sweet potato pie. How that relates to his divine right of kings, I am not sure, but feel certain that my love of sweet potatoes would earn me at least half a nod at the table of King Henry VIII, were I to have lived in those days.

Potatoes against a background of geranium and rose leaves

It might also be of interest that The Order of the Communion, 1548, predates the translation and printed of the King James version of the English bible, which was hot off the press in 1611, by which time William Shakespeare had already written most of his plays, including The Merchant of Venice in which Shylock demands his “pound of flesh”. The only plays he still had left to write—and this is quite neat—were The Winter’s Tale (1610-1611), The Tempest (1611-1612), The Two Noble Kinsmen (1612-1613), and Henry VIII (1612-1613).

©2019 Allison Wright

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