Youâ€™ve been to farmerâ€™s markets or fairs where vendors hand out free food samples. Spreads, dips, jam, little chunks of cheese — donâ€™t know about you, but I always feel like a mooch taking this stuff when I have no intention of buying anything. But that doesnâ€™t stop me.
People will eat almost anything put out as samples. If you donâ€™t believe me head to Saugerties for the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival this weekend, where the growers offer up plates of raw garlic, and the crowds gobble it down like candy corn.
Fresh garlic is clearly better than the stuff you find in bulk at your supermarket, but it takes a real connoisseur to tell the difference between the Russian Red and Italian Rocambole. Whatever, just give me a slice of that. While you eat your garlic, the vendors explain about this oneâ€™s nutty finish and that oneâ€™s flowery explosion on your palate. I stand there and nod my head. Mmmmmm… garlicky.
But scarfing down raw garlic is not the oddest thing you may do at the festival.
I happened on a long line of folks throwing back shots from tiny paper cups. What could attract such a crowd? Vinegar. They were drinking vinegar. Yes, garlic infused vinegar, but vinegar. What the hell, it was free. I got in line with the rest of them and drank my vinegar. All I needed then was a shot of oil and I would have been completely marinated. Bottoms up.