Garlic. The Marmite bulb veg. Personally, I love it. I have been hooked on garlic since my late teens when I loaded fluffy mash with it, stirred in peanuts and grated cheese, and served it with baked beans.
Hardly Cordon Bleu, but when you’re trying to live on about £15 a week it hits the spot.
The weekly budget may have grown, and so have the culinary skills (thank goodness, Mr E mutters in the background), but my love of garlic hasn’t waned.
My late Mum used to grow it and I have taken on the mantle, planting it out and lifting the succulent bulbs at the end of the year.
This year has seen a bumper crop, so much so that I have had to enlist child labour (the Young Master and Young Mistress) to get it lifted.
There’s nothing like fresh garlic, straight from the garden, trimmed and given a wash under the tap. No papery, dry skin and hard flesh, just juicy, pungent cloves. And no waste – no residue in the garlic press to scrape out and chuck.
Here at Shoogly Towers, we have another bumper crop of garlic – wild garlic. Every spring, in common with many other folk who have a shady border or a bit of woodland, we are over-run with wild garlic. Every child/dog/faithful old retainer who comes in the house when it’s growing in spring smells just like that mash of my teenage years. Mmmmmm.
Our whole acreage (well, erm, garden of one acre, that is) is covered with it, and it’s a welcome carpet of green after a dreich winter, sprinkled with white blooms as the spring progresses.
And I am not alone in my love of garlic. The Isle of Wight has its own festival. No, not that Isle of Wight Festival, recently revived and where the likes of Bob Dylan, The Who and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band played. No flares please, we’re foodies.
Yes, the Isle of Wight has its own Garlic Festival, which attracts around 20,000 garlic-lovers to wall-to-wall cookery demos featuring – yes, you guessed it – garlic, as well as the more usual festival fayre. No, that’s not sex, drugs ‘n’ rock ‘n’ roll. That’s Glastonbury.
Yes, there are bands, and a beer tent, and craft stalls. And lots of garlic. And at under £9 for the day (yes, it only lasts a day. Even a garlic-lover like me could see that a three-day fandango might be pushing it a bit), it’s a lot cheaper than the ‘proper’ Isle of Wight Festival which attracts around 60,000 music-lovers, lasts four days and costs almost £200. Bargain.
I can’t quite see anyone saying, as they probably did after the original grandaddy of all festivals, Woodstock: “Yeah man, Garlic Fest 2013, I was there”.
And I can’t see festival-goers making a list of the usual essentials – baby wipes, sun cream, tent, loo roll – and adding, at the bottom, Extra Strong Mints.
I once came home from Glastonbury (in the days I had money) on a plane (very un-Glasto). In the clothes I had worn for four days. The ones I had been sitting round the campfire in.
I can only apologise to anyone who might be reading this and who was on that same flight to Edinburgh Airport.
But at least my breath didn’t reek.