Long before “Twilight” and “True Blood” and the Modern Age of Vampires, garlic was used as a talisman: a panacea against bad spirits in the Middle Ages and against illness during the Crusades. Even those of us who happily load our soups and stews with dozens of the pale cloves can tell why it was hung across doorways to prevent entrance. Mature garlic can be overwhelming, even relentless; a single raw clove minced on a board is capable of determining the course of an entire meal, whether you want it to or not.
But imagine garlic without its bite, the autocracy of its properties calmed, even made subtle. You don’t need a spell for this one, just a farmer.
Green garlic, also called young garlic, is exactly what it sounds like: the green shoots of immature garlic bulbs that have been picked early. Farmers have historically picked green garlic to thin out their crop, bringing baskets of the early greens to market to sell as a secondary crop, a kind of seasonal teaser for what’s to come. A pile of the delicate stalks discovered on a market stand in the early weeks of spring can seem like a sudden gift, a dirt-clad promise of fava beans and English peas and the approaching burst of full-on spring produce.
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