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Monday, September 15, 2008

87: Two hundred bulbs of garlic, and a Greek Isle...

We spent the weekend at Max's parents and took the opportunity to avail ourselves, as we do every year, of one of the local delicacies ie smoked garlic. Originally garlic from Arleux was smoked to prolong its keeping but it has become a speciality in its own right and famed across France, indeed there are calls for ail fumé d'Arleux to be allowed to register its own appellation d'origine. There are just a few producers left, most of whom operate smallholdings growing the precious crop. They tend also to offer other produce throughout the year to the general public and bargain fresh lettuces are to be had during the summer months as well as tomatoes straight from their kitchen gardens. But back to the garlic. It is available in tresses in three sizes: 20, 45 and 90, the more garlic bulbs the smaller they become though we bought a 90-er for ourselves and one for the bopes (beaux-parents) and they are a very reasonable size. For those doing the maths we also bought a 20-er for our neighbours here in Hellemmes.

On the subject of local produce, I , for some reason, was suddenly struck by the thought that I have never knowingly see endive being grown around here although this is the world's biggest producing area of this wonderful and versatile salad vegetable. How could this possibly be? So on to the internet it was and I discovered that endive, or chicory is a member of the sunflower family and that the pale and creamy tightly-packed leaves are produced as secondary growth on a root that can also be used ground and roasted to make a drink. We don't see the familiar endive in the fields because it is either grown inside or forced under a covering of soil or sand. More when the season comes!

Greek island. OK, I confess. We went to see Mamma Mia! with the bopes in Cambrai yesterday afternoon. We all LOVED it - me for the second time. No wonder the film has done so well in the UK (the cinema was only 1/3 full yesterday) as it just the antedote needed for the disappointing summer we have experienced. No marks for cinematic excellence nor for the tenuous storyline. Full marks for making a lot of people very happy.