In our small corner of France, we seem to be alone in not growing garlic. I love garlic and cook with it on a daily basis, but we do not even approach the average consumption of our neighbours. Garlic is intrinsic to the local diet. The long flat loaves of garlic stuffed “préfou” bear witness to this, as do the bowls of garlic scented haricots, which are to them as baked beans are to the British diaspora. Garlic is used in all its seasonal forms, from mild fresh new bulbs to fat dried ones covered in their delicately coloured, papery skins. I often see a bulb of garlic, stuffed into the neck of a water filled carafe, green shoots sprouting, ready to be used like chives in a salad. The conspicuous lack of waste demonstrated by our neighbours, which is manifested by the lack of any rubbish bags, save ours, in the “wheelie bin” at the end of the lane, makes me reflect on the stark contrast in our lifestyles. Their food gathering is a smooth, calculated and continual process, as opposed to our, seemingly random, occasional efforts. Full of good intentions, I will set off to the shops with a list of ingredients for a particular dish, or indeed a list for the week’s shopping. Temptation, caused by the profusion of delicious possibilities, will ensure that I buy more than we need. The dish I am specifically buying for may be substituted for another – the sole looks fresh and enticing, so the more economic fish pie is relegated to another day and another list. Meanwhile, the clucking and quacking coming from our neighbour’s land announces that Jeanette is securing freshly laid eggs. If it’s too cold, there will be no eggs, so eggs will be off the menu. The ominous creak of the door to the “living larder” presages the imminent demise of a rabbit or boiling fowl. In a more modern moment, she may go to the trunk freezer in the “dépendance” which is packed with pork products from the pig that was slaughtered in February. She will already have walked up the lane to Patrick’s dairy farm for fresh milk. Some of the milk will be boiled and left to cool, leaving a crust of thick yellow cream, a rare sight in this land of creme fraiche. At all times of the year, their potagère provides fresh seasonal vegetables. And let us not forget the trays of onions, shallots and garlic which abound. I cut our firewood into usable sizes in the courtyard near Jeanette and Fernand’s back door, and I try to schedule this event to coincide with her lunchtime cooking so that I can enjoy the aroma whilst I work.