Tickets on Sale: Gilroy Garlic Festival

Fiery times await at the food-famous hoedown.

A VERY CALIENTE CONUNDRUM: The garlic-obsessed cook who finds himself making a spicy pasta or pad thai or pizza for a group of guests typically faces a conundrum of a very caliente sort about halfway into the whole dinner-making process. When the head of garlic makes its debut, from the net hanging over the sink, does the cook smash or chop a few cloves for the pan and return the remainder, or does he sneak a raw clove to enjoy while he makes the food? While some might recoil at the idea of popping an uncooked hunk of garlic in one's mouth, there are other fans out there -- garlicists, if you will -- who get the temptation. Nothing is quite as hot nor as powerful nor as, well, lasting, as a bit of raw garlic enjoyed without any other ingredients to temper its bite. But if there are guests due at the door, the cook has to decide: Will the pungent breath be worth it? If the answer is "yes" -- and the answer is typically "yes" among garlicists -- we expect that we'll see you in Gilroy over the last weekend in July, where hundreds of other gourmets who go gaga over a good clove of naked, uncooked garlic will be, living it up and feeling the burn. Tickets are now on sale for the...

THE 37TH ANNUAL GILROY GARLIC FESTIVAL... which brings the live entertainment, the vendors, the cooking demos, the wine and beer tastings, and the many, many booths of Gourmet Alley, which whip up everything from chewy-moist deep-fried garlic to cooling garlic ice cream to mussels swimming in garlicky goodness to garlic salmon. Oh! And garlic bread, of course, that carb-tastic stalwart at the soft, celebrated hub from which all other garlic-laden foods spin. The cook-off contest brings the amateur chefs, the showdown the pros, and a Sunday afternoon will see a dream wedding starring two serious garlic-lovin' lovers. The festival is called "the ultimate summer food fair" and that it all happens in the Garlic Capital of the World should lock it down for garlicists, those lovers of blisteringly hot bulbs that come sheathed in papery, easy-to-remove covering.

OH GARLIC, there's no food that's anything like you, in flavor, in fire quotient, in how you look or how you're handled. You really do deserve one of the biggest parties of the summer. We'll see you July 24 through 26.

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