Pretending to be Garlic, Not

Garlic Shoots at Window

I have a wooden bowl I use to hold potatoes, onions and garlic. It sits at the end of my kitchen counter and normally does a very good job of keeping the root vegetables dry and firm. Perhaps because of the warm weather of late some of the garlic bulbs started sending out green shoots. I decided to put the bulbs in a small shallow bowl with water, and placed it in front of a very sunny window in the living room. I am in fact very proud of how the shoots are beginning to grow into beautiful greens.

Last Saturday a downtown friend visited us for breakfast and when he saw the bowl of garlic greens and thought I was unsuccessfully trying to force narcissus bulbs. When I told him they were really garlic he was not convinced.

I was reminded of a Chinese saying that says if you try to force narcissus bulbs to bloom unsuccessfully, pretend they are garlic (水仙不開花,裝蒜). So “pretending to be garlic” or zhaung suan (裝蒜) is an expression that’s used regularly in Chinese to mean a person pretending to be someone else. Now, though, I feel unjustly maligned for horticultural failure.

Garlic greens (蒜苗) are indeed delicacies in China. We use them in stir-fries, in soups, in omelets and many other dishes. I invited my friend to return so I can make a stir-fry for him when the garlic greens are a little more mature. Why don’t you return in a few weeks as well; I promise I’ll share the recipe with you.

Garlic and Onions

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5 Comments

  1. Posted March 19, 2008 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Hm. I didn’t know you could eat those. In fact, they kind of scare me. Tell me how!

  2. Posted March 19, 2008 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Yes, in fact they are delicious! They are garlicky but less. Really great in stir-fry. You’ll see when I post the recipe.

  3. drfugawe
    Posted April 12, 2008 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Oh wow! Another great idea. I grow lots of garlic, and so I have as a by-product, lots of garlic in storage that didn’t get used. I’ve always just pitched it out. Now, I’ll follow your lead and let it sprout.

    Thanks so much for the great idea.

  4. Posted April 6, 2009 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    A really good way of using these is how we used to eat them in Spain: a bit of olive oil, shrimp and garlic tops. Nothing more, nothing less, but man could that hit the spot :D

  5. Posted April 6, 2009 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Enk, That sounds so yummy. It’s spring again and I am looking forward to garlic shoots very soon. I’ll have to try making that shrimp.

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