It all started early this summer with a visit to my most favouritest local farm stand where I was excited to find giant bulbs of garlic freshly plucked from the earth just that morning.
I had never before encountered garlic like this.
Without even breaking open the skin the aroma was overwhelming in it's pure, unadulterated garlickyness.
And the skin, so wonderfully thin was streaked with beautiful purple veins.
When I got it home I broke into the bulb and uncovered the juiciest clove of garlic I had ever been confronted with. Before I even sliced into the flesh my hands were sticky with it's oils.
Then came the first taste.
And I fell head over heels, truly, madly, deeply in love with Ontario garlic.
So spicy, so pungent, so layered in flavour that for the first while I only used it fresh; in vinaigrettes, in bruschetta, in anything I could think of.
I began to hoard the garlic, making almost daily trips to the farm stand, adding to my carefully guarded stock, fearing that one day I would arrive and there would be no more.
I couldn't figure out at first why grocery store garlic couldn't compare to my new love. I was sure my favourite farmer had some secret strand of garlic and I alone had discovered the deliciousness.
...Turns out I was getting a bit delusional.
Is it possible to stalk an inanimate food?
Upon questioning the farmer (why didn't I think to inquire about the garlic before I went all Mark David Chapman on the ? Um, 'cause I'm totally socially awkward and incapable of normal interpersonal interaction. Plus I didn't want to draw attention to my precious find and risk losing my corner on the market.)
I learned that imported (inferior) garlic is way cheaper than the locally grown product and, well, "the stores just don't want to pay more for it."
What that means for me is that I eventually I did have to say farewell to my love, at least for the winter.
I have become much more aware of local produce since moving up to farm country but it really wasn't until I met the love of my culinary life that I realized what a difference local product can make.
I can't promise not to use garlic until the Ontario crop comes around again (I might be nuts but I'm not a masochist) but I will feel the pain of it's absence with each inferior clove.