Peter is a garlic grower and founder of the Toronto Garlic Festival. He is researching and writing a book for History Press about the history of garlic in Toronto. Peter recently shared his experience at Campbell House (160 Queen Street West, Toronto) regarding what he has discovered so far in the social and culinary evolution of garlic in Toronto and southern Ontario.
My grand mom used to maintain a notebook regularly, where she wrote 165 medicinal benefits of garlic. I was inspired by that to take this interview, and had a discussion with Peter:
Kaniz Fatima: What made you interested/motivated to organize the Toronto Garlic Festival?
Peter McClusky When I returned to Toronto after resigning from a New York-based digital media company in 2009, I wanted to do something very different. I was, and am, interested in participating in issues around farming. This includes the need to raise awareness of the value of soil and local produce. Creating a venue for Ontario farmers to show off and sell their garlic harvest is a small part of the effort many people are making to raise awareness of the importance of our local bounty.
Kaniz Fatima: Please tell us about the book you are writing ‘History of Garlic in Toronto’.
Peter McClusky The book is about the history of garlic in Toronto. I’m interviewing farmers, chefs, culinary historians, and others who are connected to the story of garlic in Toronto. The idea is to create a mosaic of how perceptions of garlic have changed from the first settlers to the present day. The book will also include a review of the latest research on the medicinal benefits of garlic, science-based tips on how best to cook with garlic, and recipes from local chefs.
Kaniz Fatima: What is the next step?
Peter McClusky My next step is to make sure my garlic is growing Ok, do some weeding this spring, and get ready for the July harvest. I’m also working on the Toronto Garlic Festival in September this year - for which we’re recruiting farmers, chefs and speakers. The book is an ongoing process, with research into historic archives and interviews with farmers and chefs.
We will keep our readers updated on the release.
(Interviewed by Kaniz Fatima, Program Associate, Greenbelt Foundation)