On the way to La Rochelle there is an Oasis, set in a shady clearing by the roadside, that is only open for the summer months. L’Oasis is a shack, the open side of which is filled with trays overflowing with the tastes of summer. This year, owing to the unusually inclement Spring weather, there was less choice than I remember, but the scent of melons, peaches and apricots together with the sight of vibrant tomatoes, deep green, purple flecked artichauts poivrades, tiny ivory grenailles potatoes, pure white fresh goat cheeses and ail violette aroused in me the same pleasure as I enjoy when browsing in a book shop or looking at pictures: and I can eat this stuff.
The stall holders being paysans Vendéens, I was corrected when I asked for une tête d’ail: le patron shook his head and advised me that I should be asking for un cabot d’ail. I googled this just now and, sure enough, it’s Vendéen patois, so don’t use it when shopping in Paris!
Le cabot d’ail found its way into a pungent spaghetti with oil, garlic, chillies and anchovies which was served as an accompaniment to aubergine Parmigiana and a peppery, rocket salad which is body and soul food for watching the sun slowly sink over a long, long summer evening.