y ail, y ail, aulx…..


It has been passed down in rhyme and song that Old Macdonald had a farm, y ail, y ail, aulx and on that farm he may well have had pigs, chickens and cows but there is no mention of garlic which is a shame as fresh, new garlic goes very well with pigs, chickens and cows, y ail, y ail, aulx. The difficulty of producing a catchy onomatopoeic rendering of the sound of garlic may well account for this omission but, owing to personal prejudice, I have never felt that Macdonald, or his ilk,  could enjoy a happy association with good food, and his apparent disregard for garlic vindicates my presumption.Hell will be home to the netherworld’s most celebrated ice rink on the day that a Big Mac with extra roasted garlic appears on the hallowed,illuminated menu of the eponymous food chain.


Such is the way of the world that a selfie in front of the Mona Lisa is more desirable than a gander at Leonardo’s leering lovely, as is a sandwiched slab of compacted meat over a meltingly soft, thick slice of char grilled aubergine spread with a creamy layer of garlic infused mayonnaise, studded with capers and decorated with torn basil. Another menu option that the big pant fillers won’t be choosing….which is a shame because such a dish made with fresh garlic does not come with the pungency of dried garlic. The beauty of the bulbs themselves is reflected in the delicacy of the creamy interior of each roasted clove. It was my seduction, whilst shopping, by a trio of pastel hued garlic bulbs nestling close to a delicate pink and cream aubergine, compounded by the suggestiveness of an image in a fine cookery book* that drew me, dribbling, to this simple and wonderful dish….


..entitled “Grilled aubergines with roast garlic cream”. The young garlic bulbs are wrapped in loose packets of silver foil into which has been poured some good olive oil and a few sprigs of thyme. Roast them in a hot oven for just under an hour, leaving them to cool before handling them. Once cool enough,squeeze each clove between two fingers to release the creamy interior which is stirred into mayonnaise, loosened with a little milk. Meanwhile, the aubergine, skin scored from top to bottom, is cooking under the grill until the flesh is soft and the skin is oily dark and glistening. Cut the aubergine in half from top to bottom, season and dribble with dark green olive oil and place the cut side under the grill until there are sexy little burnt edges and it looks irresistible. Once on a plate, spoon over some garlic infused mayonnaise and scatter over a handful of capers and some torn basil leaves. I served these wonderful treats with a sharply seasoned salad of haricots blancs and white tuna, some primeur Noirmoutier potatoes and a green salad. This was a good summer lunch and not a Scottish farmer in sight.


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 2015, aubergine, Basil, Burger, Cookery Writers, Cooking, Digital photography, Excellence, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, Grilled aubergines w roast garlic cream, Herbs and Spices, Humour, Nigel Slater, Olive oil, Photography, Recipes, Thyme, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to y ail, y ail, aulx…..

  1. Mad Dog says:

    I bet Old MacDonald is a Norman French song brought over by William the Conqueror, singing the praises or roast animals and garlic! Well it won me over at an early age, I use it in almost all savoury dishes. I’ve even been known to drop a whole bulb into soups and stews, which will become spreadable as if cooked in the oven, though it will also dissolve if cooked for too long.
    I’m heading for the Mona Lisa on Kings Road for supper tonight – they do a 3 course set menu for £9.99 – amazing value for London and the food’s good too 😉

  2. Clever words Mr S! And the other Mr S is clever with his veggies (and much better on paper than on tv). I have a similarly beautiful aubergine waiting to be transformed…..you have inspired me.

  3. Wonderful recipe and menu.

  4. Michelle says:

    Forget the Mona Lisa. Much less a selfie in front of her. I’ll take those roasted garlic and eggplant photos any day. Plus, I do love the y ail, y ail, aulx. 🙂

  5. Eha says:

    Methinks that brilliant aubergine [May I have the whole plate, please!] plus a tad of tuna would well and truly constituted an ‘elegant sufficiency’ for me 🙂 ! [That actually was the name of a restaurant here in the bygone days it was smart and profitable to make two tablespoons of food a ‘helping’]

  6. Roasted garlic, once it’s creamy, I could eat with a big soup spoon, heavenly!

  7. MELewis says:

    Interesting your use of ‘ail’ for ‘i’…and of course in French the sound is the same as for ‘aïe’ which means ouch. I suppose it makes sense, when the garlic isn’t so new and has quite a bite. 😉

  8. Francesca says:

    Wonderful words and delightful recipe too but- how did you get that aubergine to stand up?

  9. cheergerm says:

    I second Francesca (as I wipe the drool off my chin…garlic cream….burble….)

  10. Sally says:

    Yes – dribbling too now.

  11. I love garlic so much. This looks like a lovely feast. Beautiful!

  12. lyndaadling says:

    The roasted garlic looks lovely , the dish sounds sublime I am seriously considering moving to France ( Just watched a house moving programme on the Dordogne) Well maybe a holiday home

    • Why not….I’ve been here 14 years and have loved every moment:)

      • lyndaadling says:

        I am asking people I know who moved to France for advice and see what I can find out and then take a trip over. We lived in Spain for 6 years and then back to the uk for children. Missing the food and lifestyle a bit – I think the English in France are most probably a bit more ……… than the English in Spain ( have to be careful what I say)

      • ..I’m afraid you’ll find that it’s happening here too….:)

  13. Karen says:

    What a simple and delicious sounding lunch.

  14. Dear good lord. The way you descrbe these things… I tell you…

  15. catterel says:

    That sounds like the real food of the gods – but if I want fresh garlic here, I’ll have to grow it myself. But then, why not?

  16. Conor Bofin says:

    I think MD has this one right. However, we await the selfie. Lovely recipe and words, as ever.

  17. Love the less ‘sharp’ taste of the young, spring garlic! And roasted garlic is always the treat I make sure end up on my own plate rather than someone else’s 🙂

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