No doubt about it, garlic is pungent. Some might even say, “It stinks.”
I don’t think I truly understood the power of garlic until the first time I cooked up a batch of garlic soup. It was a recipe out of Bon Appetit and probably included 40 cloves of garlic. The soup was creamy, sharp, savory and slightly dangerous, and I’m not exaggerating when I say the memory of that soup stayed with me for days.
Then there was the time my colleague Splint McCullough and I dined on an entire menu of garlic inspired dishes – including garlic ice cream for dessert – at a restaurant in San Francisco. I was sure we’d be labeled as “flammable material” and banned from boarding our flights home.
Imagine if you will, the power of an entire field of garlic. This field has a history. Last autumn - as we closed out the 2010 growing season at Restoration Farm - the members of the CSA gathered to plant individual garlic cloves that would incubate throughout the winter. Now, in the heat of July, we enter the cycle again and return to the garlic field at the North end of the historic village to harvest hundreds of heads of the stinking rose.
The sky is blue and the morning heat is starting to blister. The browning stalks of garlic are as high as an elephant’s eye, as are the weeds. We wade into the green morass and start tugging. Sometimes the garlic is hard to find among the weeds, but perseverance pays off. Bulbs pop out of the field. The air smells of garlic, earth and sweat.
The action shifts to the growing fields at the South end of the village. Bulbs of garlic are piled on rustic wooden tables. Several dozen people sort the bulbs into bundles of eight, which are tied with twine. Garlic galore.The bundles are counted, and transported by wheelbarrow to the Red Barn, now better referred to as the Garlic Barn. The bundles are hung in the rafters of the barn for curing.
It seems we all encounter a bit of garlic in life – events or people that are a bit pungent and overpowering. And then, there are also the weeds. Perhaps you’ve got to be patient, gather a group of friends and just get in there and tug when the time is right. Then, make a sauce and a little ziti. It’ll taste good and you’ll feel better.
©2011 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved