Michaela Merz

Wild garlic

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I find the plant fascinating. The first time I encountered it is years ago in my childhood. My best friend said then that she would take me to a secret place where a magic plant grows. But I mustn’t tell anyone and had to swear on the life of my parents. Whow, that was something! My fantasy began to run at high speed and I tried to imagine the place and the plant’s magical power. Colourful pictures of a jungle full of danger shot through my head and I felt as if I was in the presence of a magical herb that up to then had remained hidden from the world but has the power at a stroke to free the world of all diseases.

Of course I swore with two fingers that I had spat on that from me no-one would ever hear a word about this place and she accepted my oath. We knew each other well and trust had always been the basis of our relationship.

Then we walked almost 3 km through the wood, past the ruins of a former monastery. The wood began to smell very heavily of garlic. Suddenly she stopped, bent down and plucked a leaf that looked like that of a lily of the valley. She rubbed the leaf between her fingers and held it under my nose. It smelled like garlic, but somehow milder and more pleasant. She explained to me that one can eat the plant and to prove this she put the leaf in her mouth and swallowed. I did the same and was surprised by the intensity of the taste. She told me all the secrets of the plant and taught me that when raw it can heal almost all illnesses.

Of course I believed her and was happy to know a secret weapon, which could help me in an emergency. What is fascinating is the fact that the wild garlic leaves taste very good, but are almost identical with the leaves of the lily of the valley, which are poisonous. If you’re not certain, don’t put them in your mouth.

I never broke my oath and showed no-one where this plant grows. When as an adult I moved into a house with a garden almost 600 km from this place, once I took one of these plants with me and planted it in my garden. It’s practical having a general purpose cure all in one’s own garden. And the wild garlic flourished in my garden. Slowly I had a small plantation with an intensive, pleasant smell and with a small sea of white flowers in spring. In the meantime I have gradually come to understand that the healing powers are not so great, but its use in the kitchen all the more multifarious.

Last year a client from Sweden visited me and somehow we began to talk about wild garlic and she became very interested. It was the wild garlic season and in my garden it smelt so wonderful. I took a plant from my garden to our meeting the next morning, packed it carefully and gave it to her. She didn’t know wild garlic, but was very pleased and wanted to plant it in her garden.

This year in spring I received a picture from her. My wild garlic is thriving in Sweden. It is flourishing and multiplying.

I look forward to how in 100 years someone will wonder how this sort of wild garlic has made it to so many different places in Europe. There are coincidences, what a surprise!

 

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