Of meaningful lives, important people… and wild leeks
by My French Heaven
As I was watching Letterman interviewing President Jimmy Carter who is 92 years old and is still fighting the good fight – he’s publishing a book on abuse to women, modern slavery and human trafficking – I couldn’t help but wonder: what the hell will my legacy be? What am I doing every day that actually makes a difference. We can’t all find a cure to cancer, but still… Then I had lunch and I got into thinking… I had made wild leeks with a simple vinaigrette and eggs mimosa. That made me think of my grand mother and HER significance in my life.
You see, wild leeks (we call them baraganes) used to grow in the vineyard around Saint-Emilion and you’d always find some at the Farmers’ Market on Sundays. In the Spring, my grand mother served them often in salads or like here with eggs mimosa. But then, about 30 years ago, because of all the chemicals used in the vineyards, wild leeks completely disappeared.
As I was walking through an abandoned vineyard taking pictures the other day, I saw a plant that looked like a leek. The memories rushed back to me and I cannot explain the joy I felt… I was convinced I’d never see a wild leek in the vineyard again, let alone taste them again. They have a strong smell of green garlic and taste like young leeks. I found the owners of the property up on the hill. They were cutting the old vines down. First I asked them if the vineyard was organic. They said yes. Then I asked if I could take some of the leeks home. Again, they said yes. I rushed home to get a spade and got to work.
If you can’t find “baraganes”, just use young leeks (about half an inch in diameter). Steam them and serve them with a red wine vinaigrette. I like leeks well done. It is one of the very few vegetables I don’t like al dente. Just steam them for 15 minutes. As for eggs mimosa, take the yolks of hard boiled eggs, add mayo (1 teaspoon worth for two egg yolks), salt and pepper and crush everything with a fork (you can add Tabasco or paprika if you want). Then carefully put the mixture back in the empty holes.
The sweet taste of wild leeks is one of the many little things that remind me of my grand mother; of what she meant and still means to me. She did not invent the home computer. She wasn’t the richest woman in France. She didn’t dedicate her life to medicine or world peace… she simply dedicated her life to her family. In that, she found meaning and we found significance and later solace…
When we cook for others, we simply show we care. I believe that the thing people want most in this world is to know for sure that they matter… that at least one other person genuinely cares about them. Kind people who actually give a shit about others are ALWAYS significant and remembered. They are truly important… President Carter with his new cause, Mother Theresa with hers and yes, my grand mother with her wild leeks salads :0)