Do not eat the bay leaf, gentile reader, for the bay leaf is pure unadulterated evil. Settle down, sit back, and listen to the evils of the bay leaf.
Back in biblical times, there was a man, Mister Rumpleputty. Mister Rumpleputty, or Cornelius to his friends, was generally a happy man. He had many friends, a respectable job, made a modest sum of money, and had enough spare time to do the things he wanted–but every once in a while, we was known to eat his soup from a slotted spoon.
Cornelius, as I mentioned, was a respectable man–never directly involved in anything scandalous. As his days waned darker, the general populace grew to forget his youthful jaunts into disrepute. That is, until one day a chinaman arrived at his doorstep.
This sinister man was drifting from town to town, attempting to sell knives that could cut through all sorts of things, but usually things for which you would rather use a more appropriate tool like a hacksaw. As such, Mister Ying, for Ying was the chinaman’s name, was unable to successfully peddle his wares.
Cornelius was intrigued by the foreigner. Mister Ying was invited in to tell tale of his travels. Ying asked for some hot water, please, for tea. Without a second thought, Cornelius fetched the kettle and box of Earl Gray, but was shocked and amazed when the proper tea was refused. Instead, Ying placed what appeared to be dried, green lawn clipping in the water. What gratitude was this?! He offered tea, but instead this odd man had so callously ruined the water. A new batch must be immediately brought to boil.
To his surprise, this Ying poured the hot green water into a teacup and began to drink! What horror! The cup was offered to Cornelius, who dubiously gazed into the green-yellow liquid. Well, best to be polite. The man is either performing a strange cultural offering or is as march as a hare. Bottoms up!
The liquid hit his lips, traveled down the throat, and hit his belly. What a magical liquid! He felt his innards getting warm, his skin flushed, and an unusual giddiness arise from his belly. He felt magical! He felt wonderful! Ha!Ha! What an outstanding concoction! Bravo! This tea, made from green grass, made him happier than ever before! Everything felt so seductively silly! The mustache on Mister Ying, the taxidermy deer upon the wall, the mystical mechanical movement of the human hand, the tickle of the air, the round moon, the skeletons dancing on the ceiling, the motion of the grain in the wood table, the spiral of the phonograph needle, the dancing figures in the shadows of tree branches, the crackle of the fire in the brick fireplace, the sound of the bright red bricks, the silky feel of the jazz music emanating from the phonograph. All was wonderous, happy, and new.
That very second, he bought all of this quote-unqote-green-tea that the chinaman had in his possession. This was unlike any other tea the proper English gentleman had ever been exposed to. He bade Mister Ying a good day, and continued his life.
Unbeknownst to Cornelius, he was slowly slipping into a tea madness. He drank the green tea night and day, and it was beginning to steep into other areas of his life–his job, his home life, his social outings. When he was called into the office of Mister Humphrey, his boss, to be informed of his last days of employ, he did not realize until the last minute that he was holding a teacup of the elixer. Imagine his embarrassment!
Late one evening, in the inky shadows of the new moon, the inevitable happened. There was no more tea! NO MORE TEA! He went into a frenzy! Where was that Mister Ying! How could he get in contact? How could get more of the magical dry green leaves?!?! Frantically, he ran through the house, through the yard, looking for an acceptable substitute. Hay from the neighbor’s yard was close, bit did not quite do it. The mushrooms from the neighbor’s barn gave a strange feeling, but not anything like the mystic green potion. To the spice rack! Rosemary made a tea that tasted strangely like Christmas. Oregano was a little off. Cumin was absolutely wicked. Parsley was nice, but not right. Finally, we come to the crystal vessel holding the bay leaves. The water was already hot and tea was steeped with the leaves post haste.
The new tea was in front of him, a dark sickly green tea, containing the bastard bay leaves. He slowly elevated the teacup’s rim to his lips and began to quaff. It was a little off, but very good–not quite the green tea, but was beginning to look like a reasonable substitute in a pinch. He began to guzzle even more of the foul green liquid, but failed to notice that one of the green-brown leaves slipped to the liquid’s surface, over his gums, and down his throat, where it lodged itself.
The leaf! The loathsome bay leaf was in his god forsaken throat! Get it out! Get it out! He tried his best, but it was lodged tight. Consciousness began to surrender to the evils of the leaf. Cornelius fell to the floor, coughing and sputtering. His head swam and his eyes grew dim. As his spirit began to lift from his body toward the heavens, his last sight was that of the broken glass container, formerly holding the wretched leaves.
This, dear child, is why we have a healthy respect for the bay leaf. One must both worship its flavor and admire its cunning ability to swiftly purloin the inattentive’s mortal being.