Head of California white garlic. Photo by Kelly S. Kurt
Roasted garlic is transubstantial: a candied gem from a dynamite stick. One is Jekyll, one is Hyde. Ruth and Gehrig. One gruff and biting, the other soft and gracious. Raw, its juices never fully leave my fingers. Through my skin and affection, I have transmitted garlic to my next of kin. It is on their lips and ear lobes, in their hair and smudged into their bland, thin bellies. They eat it now without even realizing it. Unlike with onions, which are sweeter but also chunkier, a tomato sauce will hide a minced clove or three. Two memories of our firstborn: the Carpenter’s “Close to You” piping through the bells at Utica Square the morning after, and the aroma of garlic sautéing in the kitchen of P.F. Chang’s, where I’d gone for mom’s dinner. A decent restaurant runs on garlic and spews its exhaust into the common air. A restaurant that doesn’t cook with garlic is to me a cathedral without ghosts.