Oh, garlic. Sweet, sharp, creamy garlic.
The crop that thrives under harsh conditions, growing and evolving independently underground during the freeze of winter. Buried deep in its nest of soil and mulch, mycelium and ice, taking its rest and trusting its timing.
The eager one, first to emerge from its hibernation come spring, gracing desolate brown and grey New England fields and gardens with little shoots of bright green hope.
The experimental one, boldly trying out different styles and incarnations, from tender scapes in July to withering brown fronds in September. And all the while, it remains firmly rooted to the earth by its growing bulb.
The ever-present one, hung from rafters and windowsills as the fall descends, curing for storage in those cooling days. Inarguably reliable, gracing our kitchen shelfs long after the plants have returned to the soil.
And the forward-thinking one, its biggest cloves kept for seed for next year’s planting, for next year’s bellies; the plant’s own genetic structure improving each season.
I am always amazed by the sturdiness, ingenuity, and consistent growth that a garlic plant displays; always awed by the birth, death, rebirth cycle that plays out year after year, season after season.
And in the kitchen — whether smashed, sliced, or minced; roasted, stewed, or sautéed — garlic’s unapologetic pungency is unmistakable and worthy of celebration.