A gust of wind picks up her shawl and begins to carry it through the shrubbery. Manoeuvring through trees and bush, she chases after it, her eyes darting to and fro avoiding branches hidden within the thick curtain of jade leaves. She continues to run, her bare feet pounding against the damp mossy undergrowth as the shawl escapes from her clutches once again. Her pursuit continues into a small clearing until the trunk of a colossal evergreen impedes her shawl.
There at the base of this tree, a sliver of light illuminates a small plant nestled amongst the foliage, its small white flowers gazing up at her. She smiles, reaches for the plant and pulls it from the ground, at first it resists, why would it want to be plucked away from such beauty. Then slowly it releases its grip from the earth and pulls away. She takes the shrub to her nose and breathes in its pungent vapour, her nose twitching in delight at the first sign of wood garlic in the forest. She places the shrub in her basket and navigates her way back home, satiated by the exhilaration of her discovery.
For me Wood Garlic elicits imaginings of lush green woods and enchanted forests. Its mythical characteristic evokes a sense old-worldliness, like it stepped straight out of the pages of a fairytale. It may also have something to do with the fact that Wood Garlic; also know as Ramsons, Wild Garlic or Bear Garlic is commonly found in dark thickly wooded forests. And attached to this, is traditional folklore that believed it to ward away evil spirits and venomous creatures, commonly attributed to its strong pungent odour that permeated the surrounding air. There are forests in England and Ireland that are carpeted with blossoming Wood Garlic, and although the flowers are quite beautiful and have been likened to the Lily-of-the-Valley, its offensive odour deters many from picking them or even walking by them.
Cooking the leaves do reduced its pungency and only a small amount is used as it is quite potent. So I was quite surprised to find a pack of Wood Garlic flavoured Tagliatelle while browsing the aisles of Aldi Supermarkets with my mother. Of all places, this would not have been where I would have expected to find such a delicacy, as I had never been aware of Wood Garlic in the past, however I was adequately intrigued and decided to purchase it.
My researched uncovered, the smell and taste of Wood Garlic had been known to be powerful, so a simple unadulterated pasta dish was what I deemed appropriate. A quick glance into the fridge unearthed some Swiss Brown Mushrooms that seemed fit for the task.
The pasta is simple and satisfying and is best kept that way. The wood garlic itself was not at all overpowering as its descriptions suggest. There are slight nuances of garlic and musky flavours, but nothing at all of the odour and pungency that the plant is believed to possess.
Wood Garlic Tagliatelle with Swiss Brown Mushrooms
1 pack Wood Garlic Tagliatelle
250g Swiss Brown Mushrooms sliced thickly
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tsp chilli flakes
sea salt and pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
Cook pasta, as per packet instructions.
Place some oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the garlic.
When the garlic is half cooked add the sea salt and chilli flakes.
Then add the mushrooms and stir until the mushrooms have absorbed the oil and have cooked.
Turn the heat off and then add the cooked and drained pasta to the pan and stir until the mushrooms are combined.
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and some cracked pepper