Garlic. I think it’s a food group. It definitely belongs in more dishes than it doesn’t.
With the average person consuming about 2 pounds of garlic a year, according to Reference.com, this may be one category where I’m above average. I use it more like a spice, though technically it isn’t one.
Sautéing a little garlic and onion is a great start to so many dishes. I could eat pesto every night. Roasted garlic spread on sourdough bread – yum. Whole or chopped garlic must be part of a roasted veggie ensemble. Garlic in salsa, of course. Then there are garlic fries – wow – two of my favorite food groups in one dish.
Plus, there are tons of health benefits to garlic. Alejandro Junger in the book “Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself” wrote, “Garlic will help not only to eliminate bad bacteria, yeast, and parasites, but also to regulate blood sugar levels, enhance fat burning, reduce hunger sensations, lower cholesterol, relieve arthritic pain, and reduce bowel gas.”
While April 19 is national garlic day, Gilroy celebrates this pungent food for three days in late July each year. Those in California consider this town south of the San Francisco Bay Area to be the capital of garlic. Truth is that China grows the most garlic in the world; producing about two-thirds of the world’s garlic, according to Agricultural Resource Marketing Center.
This summer was the fourth time I went to the festival. It’s amazing how such a tiny bulb can be the focus of so much fun, so much delicious food. Cooking demonstrations, celebrity chefs, artisans and more are part of the festivities. This was the first year for a night concert. Colbie Caillat with band Gone West entertained a throng of people. The music was included in the price of admission of the festival. (The festival in 2019 was $20 or $30 for a three-day pass; food is extra.)
The chefs in Gourmet Alley and in the outlaying food booths hovering over the open flames when it was near triple digits made me thankful I was eating and not cooking.
The Gilroy Garlic Festival is perfect for meat and non-meat eaters. There are so many choices – from pesto to corn on the cob to ice cream to steak sandwiches. When the garlic gets to be too much, there are other choices.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the tragedy that occurred on the third and final day this year. I was there the day before the fatal shooting. It’s surreal to think about that fact. Still, I’m not going to let nut cases stop me from continuing to lead my life, to go to events – big and small, to shop where I want, to frequent places that are full of people. It’s easy to say that. I haven’t had to run for my life, to duck and cover, to attend a funeral for someone who died in a mass shooting. This is as close as I ever want to be to such a tragedy.
Part of me wants to buy my tickets now for the 2020 Gilroy Garlic Festival. It would be more about showing support for this small town than for the garlic. Whatever your reason for going – go. It’s a unique event that any garlic lover should experience at least once.