Wild Garlic

Ark of taste
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White garlic (Tulbaghia Violacea) native to southern Africa, is a bulbous wild species that reaches an average height of 30 cm. The leaves are long, narrow and stiff and have a strong garlic scent. The bulb is thin, white and fleshy, more like a spring onion than the swollen bulb of common commercial garlic (Allium sativum). The light mauve tubular flowers are grouped in heads of 10 to 10 flowers on tall stems.
The Zulus plant them around the house because they are believed to ward off snakes and moles.
Today it is sold in commercial nurseries as an ornamental plant, so it has some economic importance in the gardening industry.
In the wild, it grows in full sun on the rocky slopes of meadows and near rivers. The plant is evergreen, so the leaves and bulbs can be harvested year-round. Flowering occurs in mid to late summer.
All parts of the plant are used fresh.
It is extremely hardy and can withstand heat, cold, poor soils and long periods without rain. It is resistant to pests and diseases and is hardier than commercially imported garlic varieties (Allium sativum), which require large amounts of water, fertilizer and fungicide.
Wild garlic is virtually unknown as a kitchen plant. It is popularly used as an ornamental plant in gardens, but is virtually unknown for its culinary value. It should be promoted and revived for its culinary value, as it is an excellent substitute for conventional commercial garlic (Allium sativum), which is often irradiated and imported from China. Allium sativum requires large inputs of water, fertilizer and fungicide when grown on a large commercial scale. Especially when grown in a country like South Africa, where it is not endemic.
The thin, tapered leaves have a pungent garlic scent and flavor, while the narrow, white stems and bulbs have a milder sweet garlic flavor. Both can be finely chopped to flavor dishes. The flowers have a milder garlic flavor, with the sweetness of the nectar contained in the flower tubes.
The Zulu use the leaves and flowers as spinach and as a spicy, peppery seasoning for meat and potatoes.
The Khoi-Khoin used it as an ingredient in dishes such as "hotnotsvispotjie," a traditional fish stew cooked in a cast-iron pot over a fire. It was also used in other dishes such as wild bird stew or wild antelope stew. Another dish was Dassie (rock hyrax) stew, marinated overnight in goat’s milk with wild garlic and other wild herbs mixed into the milk, and cooked the next day in a pot over the fire.
Traditionally, a decoction is prepared by boiling the bulbs in fresh water, which is taken orally for chest problems, fever and colds, or as an enema for stomach problems.

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Spices, wild herbs and condiments

Indigenous community:Khoi-khoin, Xhosa and Zulu
Nominated by:Melissa de Billot