When is wild garlic not wild? When it’s a bear, of course. If you’re looking perplexed, you’ll know how I felt scanning a restaurant menu in Monbazillac recently.
L’ail des ours? Really?
That’s what the menu said. Tempura d’asperges vertes et de feuille d’ail des ours.
I had always thought that les cartes were among my strong suits when it came to the French language. Seemingly not, on this occasion.
Fortunately, I had my phone with me so a few seconds on the Google Translate app put me straight.
Apparently, l’ail sauvage – the term I’m familiar with for wild garlic – is also known as l’ail des ours and l’ail des bois. I could probably have worked out the latter for myself, but bear garlic?
“The leaf revealed its full flavour only after a few seconds in the mouth – it had all the warmth of garlic”
Garlic, of course, is one of the staples of French cuisine, and France produces around 18,000 tons of garlic a year. It’s so popular as an ingredient that there are even festivals dedicated to it.
I was intrigued by it on the menu at Le Bistrot de Malfourat in Monbazillac, near Bergerac, when we were there a couple of weeks ago, so I ordered it.
There was huge food envy from my friends when it arrived.
The asparagus was as delicious as I had expected. On the plate was a garlic leaf that had also been fried in tempura batter.
The leaf revealed its full flavour only after a few seconds in the mouth – it had all the warmth of garlic and a gentle aftertaste.
It was terrific.
It’s put me quite in the mood for more garlic. I know there’s a traditional dish of poulet aux 40 gousses d’ail. Do I dare….?