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July 07, 1991|R.D.

The "stinking rose." Garlic. How we love it so. We started eating it pureed as a baby. It was even in our formula. Mom said it would keep away germs.

That it did.

And most of the block.

It was a very lonely childhood.

Later, we would put it on everything from pancakes to ice cream. And don't knock a peanut butter and garlic sandwich until you've tried it.

Even today, we love nothing better than to pop a few raw cloves into our mouth just before we go to bed. Better than a warm glass of milk. The mornings are tough, though.

Our fourth wife--a gutsy woman, by the way--stuck it out for a whole year before she ran away. With a dentist, no less. One whiff of his cinnamon-tainted breath and she was hooked. Can't say we blame her.

Yep, garlic lovers stand out.

We admit that being called names like "skunk breath" and "turpentine tongue" used to bother us, until one day in the library we came upon a book about the ancient Romans, who ate enough garlic to keep 10 towns such as Gilroy, Calif., busy forever. Gilroy, for garlic fans, is Mecca. It's quite likely the garlic capital of the world.

The Romans ate it and didn't care who knew it. Their motto was "Sic garlicus plubenium addas virilium," which, roughly translated, means: "The gods blow sweet breath upon those who eat the zesty clove." Of course, the Romans were also fond of saying, "Circulus favium cubulum il transit?" which is akin to saying something like, "Could you please stand in the next room when you speak to me?"

And so we eagerly await the eighth annual Los Angeles Garlic Festival with open arms and open mouths. The event will be held beginning noon Saturday at the Federal Building, 10900 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood. Admission is $7. For information, call (213) 939-9023.

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