By Sue Tiffin
A joke that people share about garlic goes like this: “I see recipes calling for one clove of garlic. One clove of garlic is not enough for any recipe, unless it’s a recipe for how to cook one clove of garlic. Even in this case, use two.”
It’s not a joke for so many enthusiasts of the plant, though. It speaks to the love humans have had for both consumption and use of garlic, one of the world’s oldest cultivated crops and an integral component of numerous diets, for thousands of years.
With countless varieties, used in numerous ways, it’s arguably one of the world’s most versatile foods. Raw or cooked, stir-fried or roasted or boiled or baked, it can be found in oils, dips, sauces, spreads, jams, jellies, powders and vinegars. It can be added whole to dishes, or eaten on its own by those who particularly enjoy its pungent flavour. Some use it as a mosquito repellant, some as a face cream, some for its purported health benefits and medicinal properties. In folklore, it has been believed to even ward off vampires, demons, werewolves and transform bears into women.
Here in Haliburton County, garlic is a crop that grows well with just a little nurturing of soil. It doesn’t require a lot of space – a four by six plot will give one person a clove of garlic for every day of the year. It’s affordable and easy to grow. It even, if planted with daylilies and irises, can keep pests away.
We’ve written before about how representatives of local food assets in Haliburton County have shared stories with a recurring theme of resilience, determination and adaptability – attributes that fit quite nicely with the garlic plant itself. Haliburton County farmers have been innovative to make the land work for them. Could we use that same innovation to highlight all of our local entrepreneurs and farmers and creators and the county itself in collaboration with one ingredient?
Bala has cranberries, Alliston has the potato, other communities, too, have a garlic festival, but could Haliburton County lay claim to garlic in Canada, as Gilroy, California in the United States has done? Think of our success stories, including our breweries, our restaurants, our farmers’ market vendors, our shops, each having an offering – one beer, one baked good, one dish, one ice cream flavour, one lotion or potion or bar of soap or smoothie, one infused product – that includes Haliburton Garlic. Our bands could sing about it, our community gardens could grow it together, our artists could paint and photograph it, our knitters could dye a perfect shade of wool and our libraries could create a display of garlic-related materials so that we could all learn more about how we can eat it, use it, grow it, taste it.
Let’s start with appreciating it: Thinking of growing garlic, wanting to learn more or wanting a taste of different varieties? The 12th annual Garlic Festival will be held at Abbey Gardens this Sunday, Aug. 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.