Of meaningful lives, important people… and wild leeks

Wild leeks salad - Eggs mimosa

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.

Wild leeks

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. Wild leek

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.

Château de RauzanVineyardWild leeks

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.

Wild leek salad

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…

Wild leeksWild leeks - Mimosa eggs

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)

Mamie and me

70 Comments Add yours

  1. gypsygurl64 says:

    I adore your stories about your family! I think I might have to try the recipe. 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Please do! You will love it I’m sure. I could eat eggs every day. I often do… 😉

  2. christian says:

    i really like it any time I am there

  3. Stephane one of your legacies will easily be that you are sharing the beauty and wonders of France with the rest of us in other parts of the world. You are presenting it in such a way that we all want to visit, eat and partake of the French Heaven you occupy! You do everything so well!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are too kind my dear Elizabeth!!

  4. terrepruitt says:

    I love regular leeks!

  5. Conor Bofin says:

    This is to your usual high standard. Lovely.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thanks Conor! Try the wild leeks if you find some. They are very special…

  6. Oh, I loved that. Never heard of wild leeks but will try that with young ones. As for your grandmother, I can totally relate to your feelings. My grandparents were wonderful folk. Certainly not rich in monetary terms, but exceedingly wealthy when it came to love and support for their family and friends. That’s what really makes life worth living — that and good food and the odd glass of wine!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are so right Dorothy! I could easily make do without money, but my family is the reason I am alive today; literally

  7. Urvashi Roe says:

    Beautiful. Simply beautiful

  8. A chance ‘meeting’ whilst looking for something else – this is a lucky sunday for me :). Beautiful blog, so nicely written and superb photographs. You now have a new follower. Thanks for coming my way. Carina

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I am so glad you’re here Carina! Welcome!!! 🙂

  9. Food and memories are so intertwined for me and I hope someday, those that I love can be reminded of me with thoughts of my food. This was a beautiful post.

  10. Luffy Moogan says:

    Loving the new blog theme, Stephane, and loving this one about the wild leeks especially!

  11. saucygander says:

    Heart warming stories both, about finding wild leeks again, and about your memories of your grandmother. We can’t all be world famous, but being remembered by your family and friends will be more important for many of us. Thanks for this post.

  12. Just beautiful, the words, the thoughts and the recipe.. a post to linger in the memory for many reasons, thank you

  13. Beautiful post to go with the beautiful photos, Stéphane. How wonderful that you found the wild leeks. When we’re in Wyoming, we often find wild onions/scallions and they’re so tasty. No pesticides up where we are, so we can eat them without a qualm. I love family history, so I enjoyed your thoughts about your grandmother. As as stay-at-home mom (although I admit I had a small personal training business that I worked around the girls and their home schooling), I think family is the most important thing and women, or men, who stay home and take care of their families should have be looked down upon. The opposite is true. Finally, as for your legacy, from my point of view, Jimmy Carter’s done a lot more good since he left office than he did in office, so you have plenty time left. 🙂


    1. My French Heaven says:

      Not if I keep on eating as much as I am… This blog will kill me someday! 😉

  14. tuppershare says:

    What a lovely post.

  15. juliabarrett says:

    Beautiful post – just beautiful. When I come visit we’ll eat well.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Now that’s something I look forward to J!

  16. Very touching. You oftenly talked about your grandmother, I remember that….THE ONE with italian origins?
    The pictures are describing a peaceful atmosphere…probably you felt that during your walk and afterwards while preparing your incredible meal…Beautiful post, Stéphane!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you Luana! It was the other grandmother though. The French one 😉 By the way, I got your e-mail and will answer it. I just need some time to process it as I find it very meaningful and quite serendipitous actually… 🙂

      1. Glad you considered my point of view…no contest between you and M.:)
        Wish you a wonderful weekend!

  17. amberlife says:

    Beautifully put! I hope that my grandchildren will remember me for making cakes, planting seeds and running around the garden pretending to be a bird…. :0)

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Who would forget such a grandmother?! I know I wouldn’t! 😉

  18. cathynd95 says:

    Did you ask the owners their name? I am wondering if it might be my friends, Amy and Matt.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Oh no, I don’t think so Cathy. They are French locals who have owned this vineyard for several generations… 🙂

  19. mariekeates says:

    Beautiful memories. I think I would have planted one or two of those leeks in my garden to see if I could get seed 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I was thinking the same thing Marie, but appearantly they tend to spread like wild fire and then you can’t get rid of them. Like mint…

  20. Beautifully said. The beauty you bring about through your words and photography are kindness enough to leave in this world. We can never measure the impact of our goodness however small or insignificant it may seem.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I so agree with you dear MAria! You never know how much the smallest act of kindness can change somebody’s life… That is a thought that has always been of great comfort to me…

      1. I agree, too many people forget about compassion,

  21. reggiorif says:

    Beautiful and true words…

  22. rebecca says:

    I absolutely love this post. I frequently read your blog, but haven’t yet commented. But this is such a wonderful reminder that what we’re doing now is significant and does matter, though maybe it doesn’t feel like it at the moment. And you are touching so many lives with your gorgeous blog! That’s a legacy in and of its self! (Your photos are stunning, by the way! I wish it was that green and lush here in Colorado. We’re still waiting for spring to arrive!) All the best to you! -Rebecca

    1. My French Heaven says:

      My der Rebecca, what a lovely comment. You make me feel so special. And the good thing about Spring?: it will always arrive 🙂 It is my dream to visit Colorado some day. It must be such heaven for a photographer….

  23. AnithaNayak says:

    These look so tempting..!

  24. Vasun says:

    Nicely written. Great photos again!

  25. lulu says:

    I love everything about this post, your memories, your photos, the food. You are not alone when wondering about your legacy. It may be nothing more than the memory someone recalls, and that’s not so bad.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Indeed Lulu! Indeed!

  26. pinkagendist says:

    Value is so relative. My nanny had an extraordinary value in my life and she couldn’t read- so I suppose we should reconsider what we point out as important markers.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are absolutely right. Sometimes I remember specific a specific rose from my garden and I think to myself that if the thought of a simple flower several years later can bring me joy, there is a good chance a few people will keep thinking of me after I’m gone….

      1. pinkagendist says:

        And if not, that’s okay too. We lived, we loved, we ate, we drank. What more can we ask for? Every time I turn on the television I try to remind myself how lucky we are. No front lines. No bombs. No rations. Also, few servants, but that’s a part of changing times. We survive in great comfort as compared to what previous generations faced, even though we must sometimes vacuum ourselves 🙂

  27. Jody and Ken says:

    If you start your morning comparing your accomplishments with those of Jimmy Carter (especially AFTER he left the White House) you can be in for a depressing remainder of the day. But all of us have our skill sets, and connecting with someone, as you observe, in a way that imbues them with the conviction that they matter, is also a profound accomplishment. Too many kids grow up thinking that they MIGHT matter if only they… Ken

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are so so right Ken!!

  28. Linda Duffin says:

    I’d be very happy to be remembered for a wild leek salad if it was with such affection. Thanks for a lovely post.

    1. My French Heaven says:


  29. msshe says:

    Forgot to say..love that pretty plate! Sheila

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I buy them at my favorite antique store in a little village about an hour away from my home. I will take you there when you come visit me one day 😉

      1. msshe says:

        Good idea! I am dish poor…meaning I have too too many already, but oh how I do love pretty dishes! I have to admit that my travels never took me to the west or northwest part of France…is that your general area? Once I stop teaching…perhaps a trip back to France! Oh la la!

  30. msshe says:

    You are so well spoken. Grandmothers are very special people indeed. I think many of us wonder about our possible legacy or contributions to the world. I stayed home with my children until they left for college. I used to fume about not using my degrees, etc. and not working. Then. I went wait…my contribution is nurturing these kids. Now…years later I am back to teaching, etc. I hope my kids think back to their memories as you have from your grandmother. I don’t think we have to contribute on a grand scale like pres carter, but rather in small ways. I love the fact that you have a blog and I can visit France via your world. Thanks so much! Sheila

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Dear Sheila, just reading your comments and your blog, even your beautiful smile and kind face tell me that you are the kind of person many people will remember long long after you are gone. But for now we are still alive and kicking and our joy will inspire others for many many years to come…

      1. msshe says:

        Indeed I hope to be kicking for many years. My ancestors live to be quite old….so I hope I have those longevity genes.

  31. backpackbee says:

    Great story! I learned a lot about Jimmy Carter when I did a Habitat for Humanity build in Cambodia. Pretty amazing guy all around.

  32. sabine says:

    beautifully illustrated – and by the way, I didn´t know those eggs are called mimosa – at home, we used to refer to them simply as stuffed eggs….

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you Sabine! Yes mimosa because of the tree pictured in the first collage. One of my favorite flowers. So fragrant and luminus…

  33. Beautiful memories and truer words, well, you know the saying. I often think about my legacy after I pass and it saddens me but your words gave me a new perspective on this, thank you. I love the leeks and eggs, such a simple delicious meal. I too like my leeks well done, not al dente. Your Grandmother sounds like a wonderful woman.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I think we think too much sometimes when all we need to do is DECIDE to be happy and share the joy with others…

  34. Thank you, Stéphane – I needed this post today! I was moping around feeling like I’m not doing enough with my life. You are so right that while not everyone comes up with a medical miracle, not everyone is famous or even known for their talents, touching the lives of those around us, giving love and feeling loved are what life is really about. That, and good food shared with loved ones.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I am glad I’m not the only one torturing myself with excess self pitty 😉 Now I’m glad the post helped you realize we are all in the same boat… 🙂 All we need is love and understanding…

  35. Francesca says:

    This is a lovely story- and I agree wholeheartedly. The leek dish also leeks very tasty. I have leeks popping up here and there in my vegetable garden- simply self sown leeks, and will try this dish.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I hope you will Francesca. I think you’ll like it very much!

  36. Lovely post. Thanks for sharing.

  37. You express yourself so beautifully, Stephane. It reminds me that, a while back, we discussed the possibility of a cookbook from you. Waiting to put in an order–for a signed copy 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are so sweet dear Tamara. I must say that I am sould searching quite a bit these days. Torn between the will to keep my blog very personal and the need to make a living out of my passions for food and photography. I think I need to look at the book as an ongoing project and stop seeing it as this huge mountain ahead of me… It takes guts to take on such projects…

  38. americanmominbordeaux says:

    As usual a beautiful post in so many ways! You are right kindness is remembered. Legacy is definitely something to ponder – what we give to our family, our friends and others in general. I know my father, who passed away just over 3 years ago left many legacies both personally and professionally. I also know he didn’t necessarily always think in that way – he was just caring, kind and very empathetic – he was remembered by many of his patients that way. Finding myself in my forties and re-inventing myself professionally, I sometimes wonder what my legacy will be…always good to be reminded and to remember who we are and who we want to become. Thanks for a thought-provoking post this evening and a bit of re-centering! (sorry to ramble a bit – I was definitely moved by your words!)

    1. My French Heaven says:

      From what I know, part of your legacy will be great kids who are so lucky to have a mom like you who’s present yet able to reinvent herself every time life calls for it… You should be proud!! It’s a figure of speech. I know you are.

  39. eclecticlamb says:

    Beautiful, touching post! It brought tears to my eyes.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you liked the post!

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