Garlic Festival returns to Saugerties this weekend

There are five elements: earth, air, fire, water and garlic…Without garlic I simply would not care to live.

– Louis Diat

It helps to love garlic more than just a little when you go to the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival at Cantine Field in Saugerties this Saturday and Sunday. If your passion for the stinking rose goes beyond the normal admiration – garlic is one of those foods that evokes a strong passion, either pro or con – then you will be in your element. Surrounded by garlic-infused foods from garlic burritos to garlic snowcones, you will be happy as a garlicky clam (they have those, too). And once your belly’s full of garlic goodness there will be all manner of music to listen to, both stationary and strolling, and other forms of entertainment that includes giant puppet theater, garlic lectures and cooking demonstrations and shopping for garlic-themed items.

Garlic has been claimed not only to keep vampires away, but the evil eye, too – as well as preventing plague, treating tuberculosis, leprosy, arthritis, high cholesterol and flu. Personally, I haven’t proven this scientifically, and neither have studies, but I think that garlic has a cleansing, purging quality. Eat a lot of it raw and you feel your endorphins surge. Instantly you feel somehow healthier. Try it!

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I think that if a meal lacks garlic, it lacks life, it lacks zest. When I put together a meal, I feel like something is missing if it has no garlic in it, and I ask myself, “How can I get garlic into this meal? Which dish can use some?” Sometimes I just put it in everything.

Garlic is key to some of the world’s most sumptuous dishes, from emerald Argentine chimichurri sauce to Greek skordalia with potato to lush, velvety aïoli sauce, deadly good on everything. Without garlic, spaghetti aglio olio would just be pasta, and Spanish gambas al ajillo would be just shrimp.

People celebrate garlic in festivals all over the place, not just Saugerties. There’s the big famous one in Gilroy, California, of course; but they throw them all over the country, from the Poconos to Ohio, and in France, Spain, Turkey, Romania, the Czech Republic and even England, even though employees of Buckingham Palace are forbidden to consume it so as not to offend the royals with inelegant breath.

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