One insanely hot summer morning a few years ago, I was standing in a very long line at our local bank in Spain. Bank hours were short in our village, and the hours set aside for bill paying even shorter. It was invariably during those hours that one of the two clerks would take her breakfast break, leaving just one woman to cover all the routine transactions.
This particular day, the acondicionador de aire was not working properly, which meant that the old widows (all dressed in black), seated in folding chairs lined up in a short row against the wall, waved their lacy and painted hand fans back and forth with fervor as they caught up with family gossip. I was positioned near the tail end, behind a wizened farmer. He was dressed in a tattered shirt, dusty olive pants, with rope sandals — true espadrilles — on his feet. Having traveled down from his summer finca in the Sierras, he was ripe in sweat…although not as fragrant as the long braid of garlic he had slung over his right shoulder. Oh how I was grateful for that pungent garlic smell simmering in the sardine-packed room.
Not surprisingly, good fresh garlic was abundant in our corner of Andalucia. When we moved to Baldy Hill, however, we found the available offerings lacking in flavor and priced high. So we decided to grow our own! Our first harvest last year was successful, yielding enough Georgian Crystal, Godfather’s Italian, and of course ajo andaluz (our former local variety) to last us through this year’s scape season. This year we added more varieties — Red Janice, Nootka Rose, and Island Rocambole — and we have been fortunate that all have done well and produced strong yields.
Planting season for garlic is in late summer or early fall, depending on your geographic location, so if you’re tired too of paying one dollar a head for stale organic garlic, try growing your own. It’s not hard, trust me. 🙂 Now, does anyone have an Altoid?