Sunday, July 17, 2011

Into Each Life Some Garlic Must Grow

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

15 comments:

Maris(In Good Taste) said...

Very interesting. I am going to be thinking about that garlic soup.Must find a recipe for that!

lostpastremembered said...

It's the weirdest thing... I grew many types of onions, shallots, chives... but never garlic. When the new garlic hits the farmer's market I always wonder why since it's so delicious.

It was great seeing the photos of the harvest... my mouth was watering and I was dreaming of fresh garlic
rouille... oh my that would be lovely!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Garlic cures everything, doesn't it? I have a friend who's allergic to garlic, and I can't imagine how she cooks anything!

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

How fascinating. I've never seen garlic fresh from the ground. I love the look of it drying in the old barn. Restoration Farms is a beautiful place that I would love to visit someday.
Sam

Barbara said...

Man, that is a LOT of garlic! Your photos are wonderful. Think I will pass on garlic ice cream, although it would be a first...me passing on ice cream. :)

I love your last paragraph, TW, so true.

Kalyn said...

I've never seen that much garlic at once. I don't know why I don't get more serious about growing my own garlic; I have no doubt that it's so much better than the garlic you buy. (And I've been to that same San Francisco restaurant and I think I was oozing garlic out of my pores for days.)

Lynn said...

I could swear that I smell garlic reading your post!

Kat said...

I love and use garlic on a regular basis. I have good memories of walking in my Croatia born Grandmother's kitchen and it having the pure smell of garlic. She lived to be 102!

Julia said...

I was just digging up my garlic too! And it's hanging from every knob in my kitchen.

What a fun day that must have been! It's amazing the massive amounts of garlic harvested.

Velva said...

I could not imagine cooking without garlic. Sometimes its the pungent flavor or the creamy mellow flavor it imparts when it is roasted.

I think it would be a very fun day to pull garlic, bundle it and put it up for curing.

We rented a small family plot nearby our home. I have been trying to find garlic bulbs for fall planting. I cannot locate any garlic (sigh). The online sites are sold out too.

Velva

Gloria said...

Interesting! I love garlic!look nice, gloria

veron said...

One of my favorite soups is garlic, but yeh, you need to be careful about that. :)
still the best for immune system though...

Mary said...

What a wonderful group effort. Many hands make short work of a laborious process. I'll wager you had a great day. I hope all is well. Blessings...Mary

tasteofbeirut said...

Lebanese eat so much garlic that we reek of garlic in permanence; luckily, since the other people also reek of garlic, nobody is bothered. My friend suggested I try to eat garlic on an empty stomach, right when waking up; supposedly, it is really good for one's blood and blood pressure.
Well, after trying it, I knew that my threshold of garlic love had been reached and could go no further. (My friend eats it raw in a spoon).
I would have loved to buy a few bunches of that fresh garlic!

Fresh Local and Best said...

Oh my goodness! That is a whole lot of garlic! I'm impressed that the garlic can be harvested already. I still remember last year's post on planting garlic. What a wonderful and easy crop to grow. This inspires me.