No, not snakes on a plane. Scapes on a train—or more specifically, garlic stalks stir-fried with pork and oyster sauce in the dining car of a Chinese train bound for Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. In this week’s Food Section, globetrotting food critic Ari LeVaux talks about the pulse-quickening moment he first encountered garlic flowers and stalks—collectively called scapes. Scapes are in season right now, and preparing them at home is inexpensive and easy. (Unlike some of the other international train rides Ari has taken.)
Q: Dear Flash,
I want to plant garlic this fall. What kind should I plant, and how should I plant it?
A: This is a great time to think about planting garlic. Since it usually happens in October to early November, now's when you want to acquire seed garlic and figure out where to grow it.
You have two basic options for getting your hands on some seed: You can order it or you can just go out and buy garlic and plant it. There really isn't a difference between seed garlic and non-seed garlic--except that with seed garlic, you know exactly which variety you're getting. And if you buy garlic at the farmers' market, the farmer might be able to tell you what kind it is; then there’s really no difference. Even if the farmer doesn't know, you can at least rest assured that whatever variety it is, it will do well in your climate, as the farmer surely grew it locally. Pick out the biggest, burliest, healthiest looking bulbs you can.