Como un vero contadino, I was thoroughly disgusted by a a recent tweet from The NY Times. Besides the fact that the real story behind the Gilroy Garlic Festival mass shooting is about a teenager radicalized by misogynistic, anti-Semitic right-wing (but I repeat myself) propaganda, the assertion that garlic is a ‘once-stigmatized ingredient’ has me scratching la testa pilata mia... once-stigmatized? By whom? Garlic has long been a prized ingredient in cuisines the world over... Italian, Chinese, Indian, Korean, Middle Eastern, Greek, Thai, Spanish, French... it even colonized the New World, capturing los corazones of Mexicans and Caribbean peoples. Maybe garlic was stigmatized by upper-class WASP-y twits until they discovered ‘ethnic’ food, but those people ceased to be on the culinary vanguard since the Delmonico family emigrated from Ticino.
It’s exactly this sort of tone-deaf, inane journamalism that got me to stop reading the Times... well, that and the fact that they just can’t fucking call racism racism (no, Trump’s NC speech wasn’t ‘racially tinged’). Not even a garlicky skordalia recipe in the Wednesday food section could win me back.
Now, I feel I have to defend the sacred honor of my beloved garlic... One of my favorite summer dishes, which perfectly showcases the simplicity of Italian cooking and the vulgar (in the literal sense) appeal of garlic, is a potato/string bean salad dressed with a ton of garlic and a generous application of extra virgin olive oil. All proportion are to taste, I usually go with a 70/30 potato/string bean ratio. Boil the peeled, chunked potatoes in well-salted water, then add the string beans shortly before the potatoes are fork-tender. Drain, then add crushed garlic to taste (at least four cloves to a pound of spuds for me), and pour over extra-virgin olive oil, the good stuff, bright green and fragrant. The residual heat will slowly cook the garlic. Serve warm or at room temperature... bellissimo!
Once-stigmatized, il culo mio!