Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Allium Ursinum - Bears Like It (And so do I)

For a gastronome, springtime means a lot of things in Germany. It means the onset of fresh asparagus, fresh strawberries, and it also means the arrival of "Bärlauch", commonly known as wild leeks. Bärlauch means "Bear's Chives" and are apparently thusly named because bears would dig them up in the forests. The Latin name is Allium Ursinum, and I can only believe that the German language used Latin to find a name, because, frankly, there are no bears in Germany to dig the stuff up. In the years I've been here, there has only been 1 bear, Bruno. He caused such a stir that he was shot. Unfortunately, Bruno was only in Germany during the early summer and I think he missed the leeks.

This year, a friend of mine was presented with a 1 Kilo bag of wild leeks. She knew that she had to do something with them to preserve them so she made a kind of pistou - a pesto without nuts or cheese. Normally a pistou is made of garlic, olive oil and basil, but because wild leeks are leafy & have a garlicky flavour, all you need is oil and salt. She opted for rapeseed oil (any other neutral oil will do) and sea salt. After visiting her for brunch this weekend, I was given a jar of the wild leek pistou. I tried it on boiled potatoes & found it heavenly. To be honest, I've just been eating it out of the jar in the evenings after work. She has a kilo of the stuff. I can get more.


Cathy said...

I never knew there was no bears in Germany! The pistou looks it would taste great on fish.

taste traveller said...

Mm... that sounds like a good idea, Cathy!

The only bear I've ever seen here was a stuffed one - a teddy bear :-)

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