"Of my thirty-two garlics my favorite is Russian Red Toch, from the Republic of Georgia. The color of its skin is a pale rose. Its raw taste is described as the perfect garlic flavor.
After Russian Red Toch: Creole Red from Louisiana and Mexico; Spanish Roja; Inchelium Red, reputedly the oldest garlic in North America, discovered on an Indian reservation in the state of Washington; Acropolis, from Greece; Skuri (purple striped, with a mild and earthy raw flavor, from the Republic of Georgia); Yugoslavian (large bulbs, copper veined, purple blotched, and vigorous, with a strong aroma and a hot and spicy taste at first, then a sweet aftertaste); Persian Star (originally from a bazaar in Sammarkand, Uzbekistan, with red-tipped cloves and a pleasantly mild taste with a zing of spice); Romanian Red (a Porcelain variety, in my soil purple blotched like some rocamboles, four or five cloves to a head, hot and pungent, with a healthy long-lasting bite and a rich taste after the bite fades."
Most of us think that our creative and bountiful uses of the white skinned garlic in our supermarkets provide the best there is in the garlic world. ...Not so. Author, farmer and garlic expert, Chester Aaron, sets the record straight in his new book Garlic Is Life. Aaron takes us through his adventures of becoming a garlic farmer, starting with fond memories as a young boy, to the success and enjoyment of growing and selling his own garlic. He introduces us to at least thirty-two different varieties of garlic, most of which originated outside the United States, but are today being grown and harvested here. Setting out to recapture these memories, and with the inspiration and support of friends, relatives, fellow-experts and his cat Sadie, the author gives rich accounts of living a passionate yet challenging life.
Garlic lovers and avid gardeners alike will find themselves intrigued with, and perhaps chuckling at, the tales of victory and defeat that can occur without warning in any kitchen or garden. There is plenty to be learned from first hand experiences pulled from the author's farm; as well as from those memories which thrust him, so unexpectedly, into one wild adventure after another. Besides finding out how garlic was used to cure both toothaches and hemorrhoids, we learn practical tips on how to keep sneaky gophers from stealing budding garlic sprouts, and knowing when garlic is dry enough to be pulled and allowed to come into full flavor.
About the Author
Chester Aaron is an accomplished garlic farmer and writer. He was written and published an adult novel, About Us (McGraw Hill, 1967), and ten young adult novels, chronicling his childhood and youth. He was an English professor at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, CA for 25 years. It is only in the last ten years that he has taken to farming, while continuing to write. In 1993 Aaron was asked to be the sole provider of his precious crop for the first-in-history garlic taste-off at one of the Bay Area's preeminent restaurants! of course he agreed, and of course it was a great success . . . though not without a farmer's anxiety. Aaron, who lives in Occidental, CA is a member of the Author's Guild and Screenwriter's Guild West.
In a small skillet, sauté the onions in the butter. Add the garlic, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Transfer to a food processor, add the remaining ingredients, and purée, adding warm water as necessary.
Two of the following bread recipes won a gold medal and a silver medal, respectively, at the 1995 Sonoma County Harvest Fair. They were made by my neighbors Renee Des Georges and Eric Dahlquist. Eric was the head chef at Harmony Bakery in Palo Alto, where he won the first place in the Bay Foods bread contest.
Eric recommends using organic flour. He uses flour from Giusto's Vitagrains in South San Francisco, which is available at most natural food stores in Northern California.
Add the calamari and the olive oil to a heavy skillet. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the sherry and let cook for 10 minutes. Add the basil, lemon juice, oregano, red pepper, and crushed garlic. Add the white wine. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Garlic Is Life; A Memoir with Recipes
Photographs by Paul Bloom and Robert Kourik
Ten Speed Press
March 8, 1996
Reprinted with Permission
This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.
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This page modified January 2007
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