These lovely, lithe creatures are garlic scapes. They are the seed pods produced by hardneck garlic (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon) in the spring; they are not flowers, and when they burst they are that type of ugly-beautiful that only nature can get away with, producing copious amounts of seeds (called bubils or bulbils depending on who you ask).
The scapes are supposed to be snapped off once they straighten and before they burst, so the plant can pour all its energy into developing the garlic bulb that is still underground. Strangely, hardneck garlic is often more fragile than the softneck type, hardneck having a thinner skin and shorter shelf life. Maybe that’s not so strange.
Lately, the scapes themselves have become a fashionable culinary toy. I might call this useful, resourceful, conservation-y — except they can go for about 8 U.S. bucks a pound or more (I’ve even seen them at $2 per ounce). Which seems to me both ridiculous and typical. I mean, if you just plant some garlic, you can get ’em for free.
I have yet to learn what causes all the swooping and curling. But they’re beautiful and this is how they happen, so who really cares why?
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Scapes 3, 5, 4, 1, 2, 6, c. 2012
Fujifilm Neopan SS