Saturday, July 26, 2008

When a Stake Is Not Enough

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved the smell of Gilroy. The town bills itself as the Garlic Capital of the World, and every year they have a big Garlic Festival. (When I reached a certain age, I started to realize the smell I loved in Gilroy was onions, not garlic.) I had never been to the festival until this year, although I’ve stopped at my share of roadside stands before to buy garlic braids, elephant garlic, loose garlic cloves, garlic jams and butters, and the occasional shallot thrown in for variety. For years I’ve heard about this rare delicacy, garlic ice cream, which is available only at the Garlic Festival.

Once a genius has a great idea, everyone copies. Note that this booth is giving away the garlic-flavored ice cream. Not that nobody would pay for a taste, but, uh . . . well, they give you a really small scoop on a cone, too. Everybody takes a bite, then looks around to see if everyone else is having the same reaction. “That’s not right,” I heard one guy near me mutter.

The feel is like a country fair, but the focus is on garlic, garlic everywhere, with informational seminars and brochures, plus every conceivable garlic-flavored concoction on sale, plus a few that should never have been conceived.

The festival, which lasts three days, drew a remarkable number of people. The parking lots were large enough to be serviced by shuttle buses. The festival had a garlic cook-off, several stages with live entertainment, heaps of booths selling food, and a crafts fair where you could get everything from henna tattoos to old-style bar signs. To give you a sense of how much business they were doing, the folks surrounding the table in the picture above are doing nothing but making garlic bread, all day long, to serve just two rows of booths selling food.

Not every booth is all about garlic.

When you’re the Garlic Queen, you and your court can go around to any of the several stages around the festival and get invited straight into the mosh pit.


Papa Bradstein said...

That's what that smell is, then...couple of observations: rows of what appear to be trash barrels outside the garlic ice cream booth...coincidence?

Also, what's the deal with plain Pepsi? No garlic Pepsi? Where's the team spirit?

mrjumbo said...

>rows of what appear to be trash barrels outside the garlic ice cream booth...coincidence?

Crowd control.