Sunday, April 12, 2015

He Loves Garlic

It’s called Cheesy Chicken and it’s a simple recipe that I’ve carried with me for about thirty years, ever since making it for a long-ago girlfriend. And on this night just last week it looked like I had all of the necessary ingredients in the house.  This shouldn’t have been too surprising, since there really are only three. I had the chicken, I had the cheddar cheese and I had the cream of mushroom soup.  Great! Let’s make dinner!

I had already grated the cheese and was in the middle of browning the chicken when I reached up to grab the can of soup. Hmmm…that’s interesting. It was indeed a can of cream of mushroom soup, but somehow I had accidentally bought the “with garlic” variety. Well, how much difference could it make, really?

I opened the can and tasted a bit of the soup. I was not pleased. It didn’t taste like good old cream of mushroom soup. Frankly, it tasted worse. Much worse.  Ah, but I had already started making dinner, and so convinced myself it would come out just fine.

But it didn’t. The Cheesy Chicken, one of my favorites, didn’t taste right that night. And it was no secret why. It was the garlic. Now, had you asked me earlier that day if I liked garlic I would have given a resounding, “Sure! Who doesn’t?”

That doesn’t, however, mean it needs to be added to everything. In fact, there are very few things that are enhanced by garlic. Have you ever been to the Garlic Festival in Gilroy? There’s always a long line of people waiting to buy the famous garlic ice cream.  I love ice cream, and a few years ago I finally made it to Gilroy to taste the garlic kind.  It was awful. How could it not be? It’s garlic in ice cream! And no matter what people claim, they don’t like it. They just eat it so they can tell their co-workers that yes, of course they ate the garlic ice cream at the festival.

You no doubt know someone who claims to love garlic, or you yourself might be that very person. They go on and on about garlic. Oh, they put it in everything.  I suppose it’s possible that they do actually love it, but I have my doubts. You know, I love ice cream. I love the Beatles. I love breasts. But loving garlic? Nah, not even close.

And then there’s the guy, and for some reason it always seems to be a man, who has to prove his love of this stinking rose. And woe be to you if you find yourself a dinner guest at his place. You see, this maniac has a point to make, and he’ll do so by putting more garlic into a single meal than most humans consume in a lifetime. 

And soon the people sitting around the table, those who had only just recently proclaimed their undying  love of garlic (“Mmm…what smells so good?”) will have quieted down, slowly eating their dinner, politely complimenting the cook and  surreptitiously making eye contact with their fellow diners. Maybe, if it’s a particularly close group of friends, somebody might mention there’s a bit too much garlic in the meal. At this point the whole group will quickly jump in to agree. The cook will just smile, of course. He’s sorry, he’ll chuckle, but you see he can’t help himself. He just loves garlic.


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