The above quote is taken from Chester Aaron's marvelous paean to a herb (or is it a vegetable, he asks?) that is not only essential, but inspires much passion in its admirers. Aaron has that passion, enough so to "quit his day job," as a college professor, and devote himself to raising and promoting the "proper" consumption of this plant. Fortunately, he does not exhibit some of the negative traits associated with "true believers"; rather, he comes across as witty, irreverent, and with a dash of self-deprecation.
Garlic has been admired by humans for a long time, at least six millenniums, as Aaron establishes, with evidence of its use found in the pyramids of Egypt from the fourth millennium B.C. It is a culinary product in most cultures throughout the world. Tellingly, he does not set himself up as a "high priest" of garlic; he states his preferences, and as in the subject quote, emphasizes what works for him, and that other's taste may differ, and be equally valid.
There is a "how to" chapter on raising one's own garlic, with an assumption that you have no more space than a small apartment balcony. With that, you could take care of your consumption needs each year. One needs to plant in the fall, before the freeze. And he promotes the idea of trying at least four varieties. The chapter on health, which relates the multitude of purported benefits of eating garlic, veers towards the technical. When was the last time you were concerned about your daily intake of selenium and germanium? There are studies, and of course counter-studies, about the benefits of garlic. Aaron makes his points in a light-hearted way. Even if all the miraculous claims for the benefits are garlic are not true, it sure is simply enjoyable to appreciate and eat. The big "takeaway" for me, from this section, is the importance of FRESH, that is, unprocessed garlic, due to the chemical compound, "allicin," which is destroyed when garlic is "processed," as in, powdered or capsule form. The last chapter in the first part of the book deals with the commerce of garlic, with the seemingly inevitable efforts of China to dominate the market. There was an interesting quote about America's own efforts to promote garlic, with an official dismissive comment about its use "only in Mediterranean cultures."
Half the book is recipes! Not just anyone's recipes. Aaron wrote to some of the more prominent chefs in the better restaurants in the world, and received numerous replies (none from France, alas, but, as he said, he did not solicit their participation in French). On one page, he gives credit to the chef and restaurant, and on the other, the recipe. To me, as Aaron would say, it is simply one of those "quality of life" books, and I intend to try at least five of the recipes.
The book is well-produced by "Ten Speed Press" of Berkeley, CA, with some excellent photography and illustrations by Susanne Kasper. There are some suggested readings and sources for obtaining the garlic indicated. Your efforts are much appreciated, Mr. Aaron. 5-stars for sure, and if I am not run over by a bus, the increased consumption of garlic might add six months to my life!