You may not have this date marked on your calendar. Maybe you've never heard of National Garlic Day. If that's the case, we thought you might like to know that it's celebrated on April 19.
No one seems to know who established this day of recognition, or why, but we’re sure glad they did. It turns out there are a lot of things to love about garlic, which is also known by the descriptive name the Stinking Rose.
For instance, did you know that the garlic (Allium sativum) is considered to be an herb as well as a vegetable? It’s closely related to the onion, rakkyo, chive, leek and shallot. To our knowledge, it’s the only plant-based edible that falls under both categories.
To learn more about this interesting and unmistakable food, we went to the self-proclaimed Garlic Capital of the World, Gilroy, California, and talked with Patsy Ross, a spokesperson for Christopher Ranch, one of the largest garlic growers in the country.
Garlic has been around for more than 6,000 years, dating back to antiquity, and is grown and used ubiquitously in cultures around the world.
Here in the United States about 90 percent of the nation’s garlic comes from California, Ross said. In fact, at Christopher Ranch, the home of the Monviso California Heirloom Garlic, they grow and harvest about 70 million pounds every year.
Gilroy, located about 79 miles south of San Francisco, not only produces a lot of garlic, it’s also home to one of the country’s annual garlic festivals, which takes place at the time of harvest, typically the last week in July.
Gilroy has the reputation of being, as comedian Will Rogers said in the 1930s, “the only place in America where you can marinate a steak by hanging it on the clothesline.”
But it isn’t the only place that celebrates the savory cloves. To see if there’s a festival near you, check out this list from the website National Garlic Day.com.
It turns out there are many myths about garlic — that it has magic powers, staves off vampires, offers protection from the evil eye, and creates Herculean strength.