Garlic, one of the rock stars of the Allium family, has inspired commentary from Virgil to Aristophanes and even the prophet Mohammed. I am not surprised.
Not a day goes by that I do not pinch a clove of garlic at both ends between my thumb and index finger to crack open and peel off its papery outer shell and place it into a garlic crusher. It is my general opinion that garlic makes just about any dish better. Freshly uprooted, it has a much juicier, spicier, more pungent aroma than those you find at the supermarket. At harvest time this high octane garlic is a luxury.
Last July, I found out I was pregnant. Within a month it was time to harvest one hundred and fifty bulbs from our garden (yes, we really, really love garlic). It was quickly apparent, though, that my love affair with garlic was going to be tested.
To cure them, we hung each bulb by its grassy foliage on a rope we strung across a room downstairs. The aroma quickly pervaded every room of the house with a pungent stench I found completely intolerable. It was the first summer of my life sans pesto. I begged my husband not to cook with garlic. Even if I was a hundred feet away, I could smell it as if I had super power olfactory abilities. This distaste for anything garlic, unfortunately, lasted my entire pregnancy and my husband did his best to find uses for those one hundred and fifty heads while I was out of the house. Many met their fate in tomatillo and Cherokee purple heirloom salsa; some became starter bulbs for this year’s harvest.
My son is three months old, and thank goodness my love of garlic has resumed. It’s as if that nine month breakup never happened. We have just harvested another one hundred plus heads of garlic and the sweet smell is making its way and once again throughout the house. This fresh garlic is the ingredient I cannot live without each night when I cook dinner. When tomatoes, basil, and garlic are ripe simultaneously, as they are now, they make one of the most perfect trinities of mid-summer.