The sex life of garlic

Face it. We’ve been eating clones. And not just recent clones, but clones of clones of clones. Generations of us have been eating generation upon generation of clones for possibly thousands of years.

Bob Anderson, Texas’ “garlicmeister,” dropped hints about the importance of the sex life of garlic in a phone interview I had with him for the April-May issue of San Antonio Taste Magazine.

Little did I know that great garlic requires some sex in the wild, or at least some wild sex in the last few decades. But finding proper propagating partners for garlic was impossible in this part of the world until Gorbachev and GW Bush officially thawed the Cold War at Malta in 1989.

Once the two leaders decided to finally melt the ice, the door opened to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, the only places where garlic still grew wild, freely engaging in unbridled cross-pollination.

I gleaned this from reading Phillip Simon’s research for the USDA. Simon went on the 1989 expedition to what I call the “Four Stans” (because I clumsily stumble over their full names) to collect all kinds of new hardneck garlics capable of producing “true garlic seed,” unlike the Dolly-like clones we have been consuming.

Anderson passionately gushes about some of the distinctive flavors of the resulting children of these newly available types of garlic on page after page of his website.

The above information represents only a few of the titillating facts I learned about garlic for San Antonio Taste.

garlic goes topless

I’m sure my feature on garlic would have been the magazine’s cover story if the garlic had not posed topless. The editors probably feared highlighting such a steamy topic would mean some outlets would require a brown paper outer wrapper or only be willing to sell the magazine from under the counter.

Note added on April 10, 2012: Totally missed that April is National Garlic Month.

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