When we first met Bob Anderson in 2006 on his garlic farm near Bangs, he was standing out in a field playing a flute. We assumed he was one of those people who thinks his plants respond to music by growing bigger and stronger. He said he just liked the sound of a flute, and thought we were a little bit nuts for thinking he was playing music for his plants.
Bob is a grower of lots of garlic plants—tens of thousands of them—and the fact that he has fields full of different varieties was the result of a disagreement between him and his wife over what to do with a bulb of elephant garlic they had received as a gift. She wanted to plant it and he wanted to eat it. So they compromised . . . and planted it. And the garlic eating has continued ever since.
These days, Bob spends most of his time chomping garlic pods like they were Tic Tacs so he can compare one kind of garlic to another in his never-ending quest to create the perfect designer garlic plant.
As we pulled away from the farm, it occurred to us that it might be a good thing Bob lives so far from town that he’s not often near very many people. Even designer garlic, it seems, has limited appeal after it’s been ingested and its fumes flow into the air we breathe. Some people say eating garlic gives one an enhanced sense of well-being. We don’t know about that, but we do know that eating garlic, especially in the quantities that Bob Anderson eats, for sure gives one an enhanced sense of the stinky breath.
But Bob wouldn’t have it any other way.