Today, I had a private lesson with my one and only private student. Before I left his place, he took green leaves out of the refrigerator and asked me what the vegetable was in English.
I had no clue what it was. Smelling it, it smelled similar to scallions, but the leaves were open and broader yet only about 6 inches long. I thought maybe some time of leek, but there was no bulb at the end, only the greenery.
For years, we rarely found celery here. What we found was celery root, but not the stalks. Around our 3rd Thanksgiving, we came across a pitiful stalk of celery in one supermarket and cringed as we paid close to $5.oo for it. We used it for the stuffing for the turkey. Many have told us that the stalks are fed to pigs.
These greens that Janos was showing me, made me suspect that they really cut away tossed the good part. It is only available for a short 6 week growing season. I had him write it down in Hungarian – medvehagyma. I know medve is bear, hagyma is onion, but this did not provide any clues to the English name.
My first year of teaching here, I set up a Yahoo group that all American Studies students had to join. Many moaned and groaned at the time, but I have received a zillion thanks since then. They communicate about everything as a system. The newer Bologna students have the option, but most do not want to be bothered.
So, I sent out one e-mail asking what medvehagyma was in English. Within an hour, I had 27 responses giving me websites, translations, and so on. For the unknowing, it is called bear’s garlic (not onion) in English, but also wild garlic, and ramson. I have never heard of it, never seen it before, and obviously never tasted it. The joys of teaching is learning something new every day. Today, not only did I learn about a plant, but the generosity of students, some of the responders were those I have never taught. They were my teaching partner’s ‘kids’.