Wild Garlic, also known as Buckrams, Ramsons, Broad-leaved Garlic, Wood Garlic, Sremuš or Bear's Garlic
I've been commuting from my particular train station for 5 years now and over that period of time, have slowly come to recognise some of the other faces who make the daily sheep run into and out of London. As I walk down the platform, sometimes I might exchange a nod, a smile and sometimes but very rarely, a hello before my fellow commuter would bury their heads back into a book or paper, or turn up their iPod. And you know what? That suits me just fine, I mean the last thing you want to do is actually engage with another worker drone, heaven forbid. It can be quite funny though when you actually bump into someone who you once knew at school or college but don't really know any more and have to run that painful gamut of pleasantries. "So what are you doing these days? Where are you working? Where do you live? Are you married?", you say before coming to an uncomfortable pause and shuffle off awkwardly to the other end of the platform. I remember bumping into an old school friend about a year ago and signed off with "well I suppose I'll see you around then" and then continued to sit next to him for the rest of the 20 minute journey, staring blankly out of the window. Quite sad really.
However, after some of my latest adventures, it would be interesting to know what's been going through my fellow passenger's minds as I've walked down the platform, swinging carrier bags filled with pots of wild garlic. Most people have kept their stoic expressions fixed bar a few wondering eyes but once I've boarded the train, the wafts of Allium ursinum wondering throughout the carriage have definitely been drawing attention.
"Wassat mate? Facking stinks"
"Ah it's wild garlic ", I reply.
"You a gardenah?"
"Er, no" I squeak.
Good question but really you should be asking who is it for, not what? You see, through the magic of the superinformationhighwayweb, I have been distributing wild garlic plants to members of London's foodie community you prink! (By the way this was not my response as the inquisitive gentleman may well have lifted his knuckle off the floor and brought it down heavily on my head).
It all started with our visit to the Underground Restaurant back in March. In the days running up to our Astrological feast in Kilburn, I got wind from MsMarmitelover's blog that she was on the lookout for some wild garlic. As I had plenty of the stuff growing in my garden I emailed her with the offer of a plant and with the response of "oooh yes please", duly lumped a pot over to her place on the night of our dinner date. Making the handover was amusing as I thrust the bag into the front of house's hands saying "this is a gift for the chef from me, Food Urchin". The bewildered stare he gave back suggested that he thought I was quite mad or had hippy parents at the very least but it provided a great ice-breaker as MsMarmitelover came out from her kitchen to see us, busy as she was, to have a quick chat.
I felt like a did a good deed that night but didn't really give it any more thought until about a month later when Niamh from the very excellent Eat Like A Girl tweeted me on Twitter. I'm still trying to figure exactly what purpose Twitter serves, I mean why would anyone in their right mind want to keep updating the minutiae of their lives online every 10 minutes using only 140 characters? Never mind the fact that this is exactly what I've been doing for the past few weeks, I am still trying to figure its purpose out. But anyway, Niamh was enquiring as to where I got my garlic from as she was having trouble finding some. So in the spirit of altruism I said that she was more than welcome to one of my plants and arranged to meet her at Borough Market. Again it was a pleasure to meet another foodie and have a natter before skipping off having done a good turn for the day. I was starting to feel like Haley Joel Osment but I didn't care.
Since then via the magic of Twitter, I have also met Linda of With Knife and Fork and Helen of Food Stories, who both write equally excellent food blogs . The homemade sloe vodka that Linda gave me was delicious and Helen sprung a photo shoot with Mario Cacciottolo of SOTM fame on me, all elements which make for memorable moments and stories and all for the exchange of an invasive but tasty herb.
So what to make of my adventures so far? Well first and foremost it has been refreshing to engage with fellow foodies both online and in the flesh. I must say here hats off to my lovely wife, as not many spouses would approve of their husbands meeting strange women of the net baring gifts of flowering plants but she's been pretty cool about it all. Maybe if it had been someone that I had met on the train then she would have been really worried. On a second point though, some friends and family members have suggested that I should start to sell the stuff, which is an attractive idea, it's always nice to earn extra cash but it wouldn't be the same somehow. It's just my personal opinion but I believe a love of food with all it's entities, is closely connected to the act of giving. When I cook a big meal, say a dinner party for instance, I want to give people a good time and have them enjoy the dishes I make. When giving away pots of wild garlic, its just the same, I want people to enjoy it. It's a simple philosophy really although I couldn't tell you where it came from. Maybe it was from those hippy parents of mine.
All this generosity has cost me a facking fork