There are many garlic festivals in the United States and the world. Places include Saugerties, New York; Virginia Wine & Garlic Festival; Delray Beach, Florida; and Perth, Ontario, Canada.
One of the most well-known festivals is in Gilroy, California. It is a yearly tradition lasting three days during the last weekend in July. At the festival you can learn all about garlic, buy garlic souvenirs, and taste all sorts of garlicky treats, even garlic ice cream.
California supplies approximately 90 percent of the garlic grown in the United States and is rated among the best in the world. There are two major types of garlic: softneck, Allium Satinum Sativum, which has a long storage life; and hardneck, Allium Sativum Ophioscordon, which has a shorter storage life but better flavor.
“Eat leeks in March and garlic in May,
and all year the doctor can play”
Old Welsh saying
Garlic is an herb and a member of the lily family. Garlic plants have muted green, flat leaves. The leaves grow 1-2 feet tall and round white blooms show up on the stalks that shoot up from the base of the plant. Garlic has a strong odor and an acrid flavor.
Anatomy of the Garlic
A head of garlic is the bulb.
Each bulb has between 8 and 12 cloves.
A clove of garlic is a “toe” or section of the bulb.
Each clove is enveloped by a thin paper covering which should be removed prior to consuming.
Garlic in History
- Garlic is mentioned in Chinese Sanskrit writings, 3000 BC.
- Garlic is mentioned in the Bible.
- According to the translations of Greek Historian, Herodotus, we know garlic, along with onions, were fed in quantity to the workers that constructed the Great Pyramid at Giza.
- Early Egyptians used garlic for cooking and embalming.
- 8th century BC garlic was found in the garden of the King of Babylon.
- Ancient Romans believed garlic contained magical powers, and they fed it to soldiers to make them courageous.
- Homer praised garlic.
- The Vikings packed garlic for long sea voyages.
- Marco Polo recorded the uses of garlic in his journeys.
- In Elizabethan England, garlic was proclaimed an aphrodisiac.
- During World War I, sphagnum moss was soaked in diluted garlic juice and applied to the wounds injured soldiers to combat infection.
- At the turn of the 20th century garlic suffered a loss in popularity.
- Slowly garlic returned to favor post war.
- History records show that the missionaries introduced garlic to California.
Garlic was believed to cure many aliments. It has been suggested that garlic could cure the common cold, high blood pressure, high fevers, rheumatism, tuberculosis, worms, respiratory problems, toothaches, freckles, snakebites, whooping cough, baldness, and works as an aphrodisiac.
- Garlic hung by windows and doors ward of witches and vampires.
- Dreaming of garlic is good fortune; dreaming of giving it away is bad luck.
- Bullfighters suspend a clove of garlic around their neck for protection from the bulls.
- Taking garlic on trips over water will prevent drowning.
- Mountain climbers carry garlic to ensure good weather