What is related to onions, leeks and lilies, keeps mythical creatures at bay, enhances the flavor of many dishes, and has antimicrobial properties? If you guessed Allium sativum (aka garlic), then you are correct!
Hailing from Central Asia and Northern Iran, records show garlic has been cultivated and used for culinary and medicinal purposes for nearly 5,000 years. There are two subspecies of garlic which all varieties can be categorized into: hardneck or softneck. Hardneck garlic produces a hard central stalk and scape (which can be harvested for a delicious vegetable side dish or pesto). Hardneck garlic tends to be a bit more flavorful and have larger, easier to peel cloves than softneck varieties. Softneck garlic has no hard central stalk, smaller cloves, and is the type we typically see in the grocery store (Note: nearly all garlic in US grocery stores is imported from China).