When I was young(er) I flitted around the villages and enclaves of London. On one occasion, squiring the wife of a States-side work colleague of the OH for the afternoon, we visited the Dickens Museum in Bloomsbury, (48 Doughty Street). My companion bought a copy of ‘A Christmas Carol’ and down in the cellar of the building, Dickens’ great grandson signed the book for her. In jolly Dickensian style, champagne and cheese were being consumed in quantity, though sadly, not by us.
The ghosts at the centre of Dickens story tug a chord. Occasionally I drift through the internet looking at other blogs that I find interesting. Some of the most compelling hang in the air. No goodbye or signing off. It’s as if the author has just popped out. A particular favourite of mine is the Deptford Pudding, (www.deptfordpudding.com); the last blog entry is dated August 2012. I chanced upon the blog some 9 months later. It is an excellent read. I wonder why the author stopped? I feel slightly unnerved, bereft. So to cheer myself up, look what Father Christmas has bought me – garlic!
Okay, so I have to help Saint Nick out on the present front – but it’s the thought the counts.
There is a tradition of planting garlic on the winter solstice and harvesting on the summer solstice. My timetable is never that precise so the garlic was planted on the 17th by the OH. Close enough. So… cultivated garlic, possibly originally derived from Allium longicuspis, a species native to Central Asia. The plant has been used in far eastern cuisine for thousands of years. I expect the Romans introduced garlic to Britain. Of course, this being Britain, there’s no reason to rush in waving a lot of garlic at your potage. So it didn’t really take off as a seasoning for the masses until, well, the 1970s* – that’s the lure of chicken kiev and garlic bread for you.
(*my husband tells me that this is NOT TRUE and that garlic was used extensively as a seasoning in Medieval Britain)
We have both hard and softneck varieties for planting; they are cultivars of slightly different species, (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon and Allium sativum respectively) and, according to the RHS, the softneck stores better than the hardneck. I’d better hunt out my twiddly plastic end labels, though this year the OH has knocked up a spreadsheet, which given the AWOL nature of my labelling, is a very good idea. Courtesy of T&M we have planted Provence Wight; Messidrone; Solent Wight; Wight Cristo; Lautrec Wight; Carcassonne Wight; Iberian Wight; Germidour; Edenrose; Bella Italiano; Chesnok Red and Early Purple Wight.
Plus Elephant garlic, which is not garlic but related to the leek – though not according to the judge at the 2006 allotment show who disqualified my elephant garlic entry in the ‘other vegetable matched pair’ category on the basis that it This season’s garlic, elephant garlic at the rear was garlic. NO IT’S NOT.
I’ll get over it….eventually.
So all I need now is a stripey jumper, a beret and a rickety old bike – or is that onions?
Reading this week: Discovering Welsh Gardens by Stephen Anderton, (because the library wants it back).