The Colour Violette…

ail_violette_009On 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.

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2013, anchovies, apricots, Art photography, artichokes, aubergine, Cooking, Digital photography, Emotion, Excellence, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, French countryside, pasta, peaches, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, Shopping, spaghetti olio aglio, summer, Vegetables, Vendee, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to The Colour Violette…

  1. Cabot? I wonder if they use the same slang here. I’m going to try it! One of my favorite garlic varieties.

  2. Sara says:

    oh Roger – how wonderful this sounds – wish I was there. Love to you both x

  3. Sounds like a sensory Wonderland! How fabulous!

  4. Tandy says:

    I can barely speak French let alone try learning a second dialect 🙂

  5. Mad Dog says:

    I can almost imagine the Hockney ripples in the pool. Great picture!

  6. Yummy! I love this season, it’s the best for fresh food. You’ve made me feel hungry now, and I haven’t got anything in the fridge. Snif.

  7. I suppose a plus to farmer’s markets is that if you have trouble with the language the food you are searching for is recognizable by sight and smell. Especially if they are throwing local dialects at you.

  8. What a beautiful Cabot of garlic with that stunning blue (the pool?) behind it. And it sounds exactly like y kind of perfect meal too – pasta and parmigiana…mmmmmm

  9. ambrosiana says:

    Le cabot d’ail had a really good end…! and that eggplant parmigiana sounds familiar to me 🙂

  10. In any part of the world, those roadside shacks have the best stuff, don’t they? I can never resist them, especially this time of year when they have watermelon, shrimp just off the boat and boiled peanuts. (I wish they had such lovely garlic, but alas………….)

  11. I pulled up a reliable translator and went to work here. In the future, would it be possible to note the French in italics? Paysans had me going to Merriam-Webster and questioning my memory. It sounded so familiar, I thought it was English.

    I thought cabot was simply a family name. When I brought up the rough translation, I was shocked. You learn something new everyday! I’ll never look at Cabot cheeses the same way ever again. 🙂

    • I thought Cabot was the celebrated explorers’ name too. My Larousse French dictionary did not have it meaning a head of garlic: the Larousse defined “Cabot” as a cur or short for a Corporal.

      • Yes, he’s most notable for landing on Newfoundland. That’s more a Canadian thing, though. With my translators, I get “pooch,” “mutt,” “dog,” “cur,” “actor,” “tyke,” “common,” “skinflint,” and “wretch.”

        I’m trying to work with “a dog of garlic” and understand how they would come up with such a phrase. It doesn’t necessarily look like any dog I know. Maybe dogs are pungent in France? 😀

      • I quite like a “mutt” of garlic:)

  12. Rarely have I wanted to be somewhere else so fervently, Roger. Those French wine-pungent sunsets.

  13. ChgoJohn says:

    Sounds like a lovely evening to me, no matter the language nor dialect.

  14. Eha says:

    Merci millefois for tomorrow’s dinner menu! Can I wait 24 hours ? !! In Australia we seem to have emerged from a bad dream of big bags of bleached white Chinese garlic to something resembling your come-hither photo 🙂 !

  15. Beautiful.
    Learning French took long enough–no to the dialects! 🙂

  16. thomas peck says:

    Ah, the mouth waters! And I love the patois. Years ago I worked on a farm in the Jura. Wonderful experience – picked up a lot of choice words and phrases to bamboozle my teachers with… Good stuff.

  17. Another gorgeous picture. Makes me wish I’d stayed in France. Just returned from a wine tasting in Provence and a stay at the Marquis de Sade’s chateau in Mazan. Everything tasted a different shade of purple. And of course, how did London greet me? With gray skies and rain.

  18. Ah, my friend, I invite you to the Farmers’ Market in my world. Not only do they feature healthy, colorful freshly grown vegetables, but an extra UNhealthy but very popular feature: a old bearded man with a huge kettle standing on a platform, stirring away at his home made kettle corn! Kettle corn is popcorn mixed with salt and sugar; something I never heard of before stopping at the Farmers’ market.

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