I wish I could say that I've always despised garlic. Fact is, I used to love warm garlic bread. My jiggly thighs certainly could bear witness to that but honestly, toasted French baguette with melted garlic butter nestled inside was practically the only edible thing on the menu at those grotesque 'braai' gatherings I'd (unfortunately) been exposed to in my youth.
I was coerced into attending such gatherings. Forced to hover outside in the smoke and sadistic sun, heartily providing the garlic bread with legitimate competition in the toasty warm department. My irascibility levels would raise in direct correlation with the amount of flies suffering from attention deficit disorder that needed swatting at these 'fun lunches' - until I reached the appropriate age to decline such invites with a polite; “No thank you, I'd rather eat my own foot.”
People, I am told, have the prerogative to change and I started exercising mine when I had what I shall now refer to as 'My Garlic Epiphany'.
See, I have never been fond of food that lingers. The kind that overstays its welcome and moves into your mouth with two travel bags and a vanity case. Stuff like peanut butter and spring onion are two known culprits. The worst, though, is garlic. Garlic not only embeds itself into your tongue, fixes itself onto the roof of your mouth and engages in a twisted romantic dalliance with your breath. Oh no.
It somehow saturates your entire being and then slowly drains out of the sweat pores in your skin – like a parasitic virus – in a procedure that may take up to two days to complete.
It dawned on me that I was also the lucky recipient of garlic-induced nausea. It crept up on me at night, then proceeded to rob me of my sleep because it would croon sweet varmint nothings in my ear and dehydrate me so much that I felt like King Tut. Except he, could sleep.
I realised that this iffiness could be avoided. I didn't like garlic bread that much anyway and I figured that it would be easy to merely steer clear of garlicky foods.
The assembled gods in the great hall in the sky must've had a right laugh at this (logical, one would think) reasoning. AhhaHAAAAAHaha! See, teeheehee, how Yolandi thinks she can simply ask for her meals to be prepared without garlic! Watch while she tries to explain to the waiter that she's allergic to garlic in order to stress the importance of the request! And – Haha! - look, as she discovers that the sauce in her ravioli not only contains garlic but EXTRA garlic has been added by the incompetent waiter! HAHAHA!!!
Needless to say, it has not been easy.
Oh the cherished tales I have of dressing-free salads offering sanctuary to garlic croutons lurking under rocket leaves, of waiters not realising that garlic is a herb and once, of a pizza being delivered with a generous sprinkling of garlic and charged as an additional topping. It's truly astonishing how many people are unable to comprehend a request as rudimentary as 'no garlic'.
Then, of course, there's the verbal abuse I have to endure due to my aversion to garlic. First, there's the general round of questioning i.e. 'You're allergic to garlic?' and 'Why don't you eat garlic?' and my old favourite; 'But why? Garlic is so delicious! I love garlic! Garlic is good for you! Here, have some now! Taste this!'. Then, the taunting begins. Mini bowls of garlic are shoved in my face and accusations of being a vampire are flung at me with great elan.
It doesn't help that I hate the sun too.
It feels grossly unfair that I am subjected to this kind of ridicule, especially because I don't vehemently advocate the health benefits of peas or try to persuade people to try asparagus when they confess that they're not fans of selfsame.
This type of persecution has resulted in my hating every single one of the Ocean Basket franchises.
I also cannot help but glower at those individuals who obviously partook in garlic joviality the night before with little regard for their co-workers the next day. What I ate last night does not announce itself when I enter the room and induce nausea in others. Why is it too much to ask for the same courtesy to be extended to me?
Like a closeted teen, my family has slowly come to tolerate my lifestyle change. Even though it has been ages since the big 'reveal' (or epiphany), they still have some difficulty in accepting it on some days. I believe that they too, are mollified by the magnitude of food products and condiments that harbour the fugitive known as garlic.
Instead of world peace – perhaps we should be praying for salvation from The Garlic Monster? Or, at the very least, for culinary schools to instill an awareness in nubile, young chef-minds that cuisine sans garlic actually exists and perhaps even has the potential to taste better for the precious, brief moment that the sensation lingers on the tongue before fading away?