Spring Clean

I saw this on Facebook the other day, the virtues of dandelions are not exactly a revelation around here. They are a vital part of the end of winter detox, after a winter of meats preserved in fat and a lack of fresh vegetables.

people are out and about as soon as the dandelions or “pissenlits” (literally wet-the-beds) raise their heads above the ground. The tannic bitterness of the leaves in a salad certainly feel like they’re cutting through the winter fat lining your arteries, although the traditional addition of lardons or preserved gizzards does seem a bit counter-intuitive!

Now research is showing that years of tradition does have factual backing, dandelions are a rich source of beta-carotene and polyphenolic compounds, both of which are known to have strong antioxidant effects.
And some tests now seem to be showing they have anti cholesterol properties as well as protecting the liver tissue from toxic substances and oxidative stress. Music to the ears of the people of the South West of France who at times seem to be a little obsessed with their livers.

Another bitter “vegetable” which is very popular is respounchous/rĂ©pounchous, (i’ve seen other spellings) which are the bitter shoots of ” tamis commun ” a plant usually considered poisonous in Britain.

You can see people of all ages, sometimes several generations at once, clambering around in the hedgerows to pick the shoots to make a salad or an omelette. So lovely to see the tradition being preserved.

“Tanous” another word from the local patois are the shoots of over wintered bolted brassicas. In keeping with the local attitude to food, nothing is wasted and these are gathered into bunches and sold by smallholders at local markets. These are also blanched and served as a salad. I love them “tiede” with an olive oil and lemon dressing although that is certainly not traditional! What! No hard boiled eggs, no lardons!

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