The scent of Garlic is in the air

Laurie Sontag

Last week we went on vacation. Yes, I know this isn’t earth-shattering news. But everywhere we went, people asked us where we were from. And when we answered “Gilroy,” we always got the same reaction:
“Gilroy? The Garlic Capital of the World? Home of the Garlic Festival?”
I swear to you, we were a bazillion miles from home and people still knew of the Garlic Festival. And once they knew that, they had a million questions.
1. Do you smell garlic all the time? No. Only when the festival is taking place or the garlic is being processed. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t even notice the smell of garlic. Because, allergies. And please. You are not being discreet. Stop trying to sniff me. Just because I’m from Gilroy, doesn’t mean I reek. At least, I don’t think I reek. Because again, allergies.
2. Do you eat the garlic ice cream? Um, no. We Gilroyans are so well mannered, we leave all the garlic ice cream for our guests. We even give it away for free because we want you to be able to enjoy all of its garlicky goodness. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Oh, fine. I have a horrifying confession to make. I have never had garlic ice cream. I know. I hang my head in shame every single day. But to be honest with you, shame or no, I’m not ever going to try it.
3. The garlic ice cream is free? Oh yes. And yet, I still won’t try it. It’s just not going happen. But you feel free to eat as much as you like.
4. Why is it so hot at the festival? Um, because it’s California? And it’s the end of July? But I’m really just guessing. I’m sure there’s some other geeky explanation like the tilt of the earth’s axis or something.
5. I guess there aren’t any vampires in Gilroy. Between the garlic and the hot sun, vampires pretty much leave us alone. On the other hand, you might want to watch where you go at night because we have werewolves.
6. Werewolves? Seriously? No. Just … no. But, we do have unicorns. No. No we don’t. I’m just messing with you.
7. Do you have a garlic hat? Of course I have a garlic hat. I’m a Gilroyan. It’s like a law or something that we all have garlic hats. They issue them at the hospital when a Gilroyan is born. Well, not really, but seriously. Don’t you think they should?
8. Do all the foods have garlic? You mean other than the scampi, the ice cream, and, my personal favorite, the garlic bread? And my other personal favorite, the mushrooms? And my incredibly awesome personal favorite, the crab-topped garlic fries? And my real, honest, cannot-miss-no-matter-how-full-I-am favorite, the pepper steak sandwiches? Yes, pretty much all the food has garlic. And some of the wine does too. Ooh, once we had fried baloney sandwiches and I MISS THEM. They were garlicky, too.
Ah, yes, the Gilroy Garlic Festival. A famous vacation spot for many across the globe for 36 years. Have a fun festival, everyone. And don’t forget to wear your garlic hat.

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