The full cloves
Of your buttocks, the convex
Curve of your belly, the curved
Cleft of your sex--

Out of this corm
That's planted in strong thighs
The slender stem and radiant
Flower rise.

--Richard Wilbur, "A Shallot," from The Mind Reader (1976)

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(Allium ascalonicum)

Shallots, like garlic, grow in a cluster of bulbs--usually covered by reddish paper membrane, but sometimes by a purpley or greenish paper. By reputation, they are said to have first sprouted in ancient Ashkelon, where Delilah shore Samson's tresses. Thus their name ascalonicum.

Known for their distinctive and slightly garlic taste, they are the darlings of French cooking--and also beloved in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia. It's said that, no matter where or how they're grown, they never develop a sharpness that will overpower a dish or sauce.

Consider, in that context, the anonymous ancient Chinese poet's eschatological reflection on "The Dew that on Shallot-leaves Lies," dating back to Western Han dynasty" (trans., J.A. Turner):

How soon in sunlight dries
The dew that on shallot-leaves lies!
Yet the same dew,
Though now 'tis dry,
Tomorrow morn will fall anew.
But when shall mortal men,
If once they die,
Ever return again?