From my perspective garlic is an absolute necessity. It's a kitchen staple. I can't imagine food without garlic. Excluding ice cream, that is. We decided to go whole hog this year and plant a bunch! The bulbs and cloves are HUGE!
Seed Savers has fourteen varieties to choose from including such intriguing names as Music, Persian Star, Pskem River and Broadleaf Czech. Of course, there is also Elephant Garlic, which is not a true garlic, but rather a type of leek and much milder in flavor.
Of the 13 varieties of true garlic available from Seed Savers, we decided on two: German Extra Hardy and Georgian Fire. The Georgian Fire probably goes back to Russian origin; however, Seed Savers obtained the original stock from the Gatersleben Seed Bank in eastern Germany. Chefs call it a truly "white hot" garlic. It has a strong garlic taste and raw is said to be great for salsa and salads. It's a hardneck garlic, which means it's not braidable inasmuch as the neck (above the bulb) is stiff.
The other variety, German Extra Hardy also has what is described a strong garlic flavor and is a vigorous grower with deep roots that enable it to overwinter. Our garlic last year was planted in an area of the garden that was too wet, so this year we're moving it to the opposite end. This variety also has a high sugar content and is one of the very best for roasting, and is also a hardneck.
The label that came with each variety has a little history of garlic. It dates to Central Asia about 4000 BC. Among other things, it was fed to pyramid builders, probably for strength, used as currency and found in King Tut's tomb in Egypt. In Rome, it was consumed by Olympic athletes and game cocks, also for strength. And, it was used as a medicine in India and China.
Currently, there are over 600 sub-varieties cultivated all over the world.
From time to time, the supplement industry suggests that ingesting a goodly amount of garlic provides healthful properties that will ward off colds and flu, but there doesn't seem to be much hard evidence for this except for the fact that with a heavy garlic breath, nobody wants to be around you!
If isolation is the price I must pay for enjoying this universal flavor additive, that's just fine with me!