Mad Lovage

We have some lovage in our garden and at this time of year it is fascinating to watch.

From nothing to this in a couple of weeks
Having completely died back in October, there is nothing at all to see for 6 months apart from a few dead stalks, looking a bit like bamboo. Then in early May it wakes up. First some greeny-red shoots appear, then suddenly it grows. And grows. Within a couple of months it reaches its height of about 6 or 7 feet, growing about an inch per day. It certainly seems to enjoy its position in our wet and windy garden. In fact our original reason for planting it was that it takes up large amounts of water and is good in slightly boggy areas.

Yum yum
A herb, its leaves have a fairly strong, savoury flavour which could easily dominate a dish if you used too much. Some say it tastes of celery, others that it is like Marmite and in Holland it is known as the Maggiplant because to them it tastes somewhat of Maggi Soup Seasoning.

We sometimes use the young leaves in salads but otherwise we haven't really tested its culinary uses. This year I think we'll try a few recipes. It is a popular seasoning in Romania, although traditional Romanian fare doesn't excite us much, being vegetarians. I'm quite drawn to attempting alcoholic lovage cordial, a traditional drink which was developed in the west country and was popular on long sea journeys, being reputed to keep rheumatism at bay.

But for now the main job is to watch it grow at an amazing rate, like Jack's bean stalk.