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Waiting To Exhale

Mon., July 28, 1997, midnight

Alright, the annual celebration of the pungent garlic bulb in the northern California farming town is strange enough. The 19th Gilroy Garlic Festival opened in an aromatic blaze of glory this weekend when chef Rich Janisch dumped calimari into a giant skillet of sizzling olive oil, sending up a whoosh of flame that raised the curtain on offerings ranging from garlic salsa and alligator tails to garlic egg rolls to garlic chocolate. And for dessert, legions of fans stood sweating in long lines for a scoop of garlic ice cream. “People go crazy for this stuff,” said ice cream vendor Rickii Gutierrez. But for those aficionados whose zest and spirit of adventure has not been entirely squeezed through a garlic press there was (a kettle drum crescendo here) … the kissing contest.

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