Thursday, January 22, 2009

Elephant garlic is stupid, or things don't have to be bigger to be better

Garlic is not a staple on the shelves in the box box grocery store nearest to my home here in the suburbs. We can buy enormous jars of over processed, pre-crushed garlic in olive oil. Organic garlic is available for a hefty price in plastic containers with no fewer than four bulbs each. And then there is the elephant garlic. Giant bulbs in purple plastic cases for the hefty price of $1.99 per bulb. And that's it.

Desperate for garlic and not really wanting to trek the length of the main thoroughfare running through town to get to the boutique grocery store, I bought a head of elephant garlic this week.

Every time I look at the bulb I cringe. Each clove of garlic is (a) too big to fit in any non-industrial sized garlic press, (b) too hefty to crush easily with the back of a spoon or a small pan, and (c) almost devoid of taste. And that's really the problem. Bigger vegetables and fruits tend to not be as flavorful, because the extra air and water that make them big in turn dilute the power of the taste and maybe the nutritional content.

In addition to not tasting very good, unnaturally large fruits and vegetables are well known to pose threats both spiritual and mortal. Roald Dahl's story James and the Giant Peach is banned by censors around the world for its graphic and allegedly terrifying story about the dangers lurking inside over sized fruit. Comedian Morgan Spurlock rose to fame in 2004 with his film Super Size Me which demonstrated how over sized potatoes (in french fry form) could ruin one's health in just 30 short days.

So, whose idea was it to make vegetables bigger? And why? Okay, maybe bigger carrots and bigger potatoes to feed hungry people in hungry places like Sudan and North Korea. But bigger garlic? We don't need bigger garlic. It is stupid.

In Smart Town, there will be a moratorium on elephant garlic, enormous eggplant, and rotund rutabagas. We won't need them because all of the people will have enough to eat and will enjoy only delicious food. However, there will be no moratorium on Roald Dahl books, or any stories about boys who explore all there is to see inside giant pitted fruits.

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