There are two conflicting theories that seek to explain the introduction of the garlic to France. One posits that garlic was carried to France by the Romans. This theory makes sense if, as it written, garlic was one of only seventy-five plants in the gardens of Charlemagne, King of the Franks and the first Holy Roman Emperor. Charlemagne lived between 742 and 814 AD.
Another (and the one I’m honoring today) is that garlic was brought to France as a result of The Crusades, the Christian military campaigns fought primarily against Muslims between 1,095 and 1,200 AD. Godfrey de Bouillon, the leader of the first Crusade to liberate Jerusalem from Muslim forces, is credited with introducing garlic to France in 1099. He was appointed the first Defender of the Holy Sepulchre of The Kingdom of Jerusalem on this day in 1099. I’m not honoring the crusades which resulted in the murder of many Muslims and Jews, but rather celebrating the introduction of garlic to France which all will agree has been a rich and fruitful partnership.
The residents of Provence celebrate summer with a Grande Aioli, fish and vegetables served with a rich, garlicky mayonnaise. I’m preparing to host one of Sunday (once our heat wave subsides). This recipe for Aioli is from The Silver Palate.
8 to 10 garlic cloves, peeled
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
Juice of 1 lemon
1 t. Dijon mustard
1 ½ c. oil (half peanut oil, half olive oil) at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
Puree garlic in a food processor or blender. Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl until light and smooth, and add to the garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste, lemon juice and mustard, and process to a smooth paste.
With the machine still running, pour the oil very slowly into the mixture in a steady stream, blending constantly. Continue blending until you obtain a thick, shiny, firm sauce– a minute or so. It’s best to have all ingredients at room temperature so they will easily emulsify. If the aioli separates, stop adding oil and continue to mix until ingredients come together. Transfer to storage container, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use, but not more than 1 day.
The market dictates the ingredients for a Grande Aioli but here are my plans. Feel free to substitute whatever looks best at your market. Pictures to come (on Sunday) but enjoy the medieval portrait of Godfrey de Boullion.
3 lbs. Grilled Tuna (or more traditionally, poached salmon, cod, or halibut)
½ lb. snow peas or snap peas, blanched
2 lb. broccoli, blanched
2 lb. thin asparagus, grilled
1 lb. zucchini, grilled
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, raw
1 lb. baby carrots, raw
1 jar marinated artichokes
12 hard-boiled eggs
1 lb. boiled new potatoes
I promise to honor the Romans soon.