- It's easy to find,
just south of San Francisco and San
Jose, along Highway 101. Then just follow your nose. The scent of "the stinking
rose" is ubiquitous, omnipotent, even---triggering urges omnivorous. The sweet stench
of garlic will get in your hair and will cling to your clothes. If you are a
Wonder-Bread-and-mayo type, and do not much care for garlic, don't go along just to please
your Uncle. You will reek for hours. (So will your uncle.)
- All right, it's funky. Dust is everywhere. This is no place to wear your Ralph Laurens.
Sneaks and shorts are more like it. But when you hear them leedle clove-arinos
poppin' and slidin' and a-sizzlin' in the big big festival pans, and see the cooks fixing mountains of
garlic bread, plus Greek, Mexican, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, American and
International pastas, stuffed mushrooms and stir-fry dishes, this beckoning,
- Mouth-surfing symphony of flavours and exotic tastes suddenly becomes so much more
important than muddy sandals, pooling grease stains on your old Jimi Hendrix t-shirt, and
butter running down your leg. This is a great place to roadtest a new romance, if you like
- And it's certainly camp. Some folks are selling garlic bulbs dressed as celebrities
("Stormin' Norman Garlikopf", "Aero Sniff", "The
Fumigator"), and a "self-cleaning" garlic press. Oh, don't leave out the
Clovettes, the men and women in garlic bulb hats who jog at the festivals, exuding a type
of booming good health and bonhomie that is an inspiration to all of us who love good
clean American living and people who dress as centipedes. You are invited to dress up,
too, as the herb superb: many do. Those who prefer a more soignee look can buy
- Over in the children's area Herbie, a "junior garlic character", will greet
the little dears. Here also is the no-garlic zone, where you'll find bland fast foods that
most kids adore. Kids will also snap up garlic photos, game booths, face-paints, clowns,
magicians, marionettes, balloon animals, crafts and hosts of charming retail items and
mementos that Mommies will undoubtedly wish to acquire. Park the kiddies here. You go back
to Gourmet Alley.
- Breathe deep. As you stroll along, sniffing and snuffling, your senses made sharp in
this cacaphonous Smell-o-Rama of flaming pans and feral, gustatory lusts, the little
mushrooms scream "Eat Me!" and the barbeque bubbles and winks in the California
sun. Get ahold of yourself. There was an earthquake here, you know. Garlic lovers hardly
- Consider these garlic facts: Garlic is good for you. Boosts the immune system, banishes
vampires, de-clogs the old pipes. For over 6000 years, yogis in India have warned seekers
of peace and chastity to stay away from garlic, calling it rajasic, a major-league
aphrodisiac. Those it does not scare away it makes bolder.
- Ice cream can't make that claim, not chocolate, likker or snuff. The more you eat that
bad, bad old bulb, and the hungrier you get for it, and more your body thanks you. So try
to overlook the brash, absurd and occasionally disgusting excesses of the annual Gilroy
fests (more on that later), there is too much to savour and learn about the bulb to miss.
- There are 684,222,288,205 ways to cook with garlic. And that's just the dishes with
turnips. The Great Garlic Recipe Contest and Cook-off will show you 7,500,188 more. Here
famous chefs and food critics preside over exotic festival dishes made from original and
unpublished recipes. First prize is $1000. If you'd like to get in on this action, you
must apply early for an entry form. Or just go for the judging and samplings at the
festival. Clear your palate with the rather nice local wines from the Santa Clara valley,
available throughout. During previous three day stinkfests, cooks used more than eight
tons of garlic: with 136,000 people in attendance last year, the wine figures cannot be
running far behind.
- As with any festival whose origins are in France, with wine comes song: music and
entertainment on four stages, running continuously from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.. And if you're
in the neighbourhood, there's a big western barn dance the weekend before the festival,
with dancing to bands like "Chaparral" and "Shaboom". If you'd like to
two-step with the locals, tickets must be ordered in advance. Bring your cowboy hat.
- If sports are your thing, the Gilroy Garlic Festival's golf and tennis tournaments and
Tour de Garlique bicycle events will let you sign up---but again, sadly, only way in
advance. You are in luck, however, if you just turn up for Bonnie Gillio's daily festival
classes on garlic braiding. You will learn how to make the neighbours mad while you grow
and harvest the little devil. Everybody will have a chance to enter a garlic
"topping" contest on each of the three festival days.
- But what about some of the disgusting stuff I promised to tell you about?
- Garlic chocolate for sale here. As is garlic ice cream. And---look out---garlic iced
tea. If you wish to torture your children, you can always get them garlic snow cones.
BEING THERE at California's Gilroy Garlic Festival
Where To Stay: San Jose
No matter how much you love garlic, your best bet is to get away from the smells and
stay in nearby San Jose, "Capital of the Silicon Valley" and worthy of
exploration all by itself. There's Raging Waters Aquatic Theme Park, the Egyptian Museum
(with 3000 year old mummies), a huge flea market, the NASA Ames Research Centre, the
Chinese Cultural Gardens, Japanese Friendship Gardens, the touchy-feely Children's
Discovery Museum, brilliant restaurants, and of course, the area is jammed with the
equally entrancing , jovial cyberpunks and computer geniuses who make Silicon Valley
San Jose HOTELS
1740 North First Street, San Jose 95112-4584
Tel (408) 993-1234 or 1-800-233-1234
1350 North First Street, San Jose 95112
Tel (408) 453-6200 or 1-800-662-9896 (within California)
1-800-538-6818 (outside California)
The Arena Hotel, 817 The Alameda, San Jose 95126
Tel (408) 294-6500 or 1-800-882-1984
Best Western Gateway Inn, 2585 Seaboard Ave., San Jose 95131
Tel (408) 435-8800 or 1-800-437-8855
Cheap and Cheerful:
Days Inn, 4170 Monterey Road, San Jose 95111
Tel (408) 224-4122 or 1-800-325-2525
Howard Johnson, 1755 North First St. San Jose 95112
Tel (408) 453-3133 or 1-800-654-2000
SAN JOSE RESTAURANTS
Garlicky gastronomy tends to whet the appetite. And you thought you'd only eat at the
delicious Festival, but..!There are still some exotic dishes sadly missing from Gilroy. No
Indian food, for example---shame! And no Big Macs. Happily, the restaurants of San Jose
will easily fill in the gaps.
Taj India Cuisine, 118 East Santa Clara St.
Tel. (408) 993-0661
El Maghreb Moroccan Restaurant, 145 West Santa Clara St.
Tel (408) 294-2243, and belly dancing too.
California Kitchen, 150 s. First St., #111
Tel (408) 288-6297
White Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant,
80 N. Marker St.(408) 977-0540
For all the info, rules and regs on golf events, tennis, runs, walks, jogs, bicycle
tours, barn dance tickets, the Great Garlic Recipe Contest and Cook-off or anything else
you can imagine, call the Festival Office at (408) 842-1625 or go to website http://www.garlicfestival.com