Last weekend was the Pikes Peak Urban Gardens’ garlic festival.  It wasn’t big, and there wasn’t as much garlic as you might have expected.  I mean, a garlic festival, you expect things to reek of garlic.  You expect a six-foot dancing garlic bulb and a raw garlic eating contest.  Roast meat slathered in garlic–perhaps even on a spit.

Maybe someday.  Now it’s small enough to fit in a garden center that doesn’t take up even a small block.

There was a guy playing guitar.  A guitar-shaped guitar without a lei of garlic around its neck.   He played non-garlicky songs.   There were food trucks outside the festival.  We got an iced coffee–one of the trucks was run by a guy that does food stuff up by where my husband works.   We passed by someone selling juice out of the back of a smart car.  There was supposed to be garlic popcorn, but it hadn’t got running yet.  There was a video of how to grow garlic:  it ran for ten minutes and started on the half hour.  It was like one of those movies that you see in an art museum, on a loop.  It’s not something you couldn’t find elsewhere; it’s just there to give context.

We stopped by all the tables.  I ate a salad from Seeds Community Cafe, which was a good thing.  I’d heard of them but hadn’t bothered to go because I thought they were a bunch of do-gooders with more ideals than sense, and who couldn’t cook.   But the salad was good, and now I think I’ll go check them out sometime soon.  I ate all of the salsas from the salsa contest; there was a Japanese salsa (which turned out to be a green salsa with tamari sauce) and a beet-garlic salsa (which sadly tasted nothing of garlic).  I had a veggie taco that was mostly potatoes.  Good, but it reminded me of why being a vegetarian is hard:  all that freaking starch.

It was a small festival, okay?  We didn’t say for the cookoff or whatever else there was.  We stayed for maybe an hour.  It was good, a good place to be.

But what I really want to tell you about was the garlic ice cream.

What did you think of, when you first read that phrase?  Garlic ice cream.

I think it’s important.

Did you decide it was going to be disgusting?  Did you decide that it was interesting, and you’d have to try it?  Would it help if I told you that it was made by the cooks over at Blue Star?

We tried it.  We stood in line and got a two-ounce cup of it with a little spoon.  Lee took a bite first and decided it was godawful.

I took a bite.  At first, it was awful.  But I’ve tasted weird food before, and I love finding out how the mind works.  I know this stuff is made by people who would otherwise only make delicious things.  This horrific flavor sensation, of vanilla ice cream with raw garlic mixed in, isn’t all there is.

Then I think, “cold garlic cheese spread.”

There’s a snap in my mouth, and the ice cream tastes different.  Now it’s not vanilla ice cream with garlic on top.  Now it’s chilled garlic cheese spread, thinned out with milk and cream, and the garlic’s not raw, it’s roasted.

Two completely different flavors; each of them was more or less all in my mind.  An optical illusion of the taste buds.

It wasn’t just me, either.  I told Lee, and the same thing happened to him.

We both finished the entire thing, sitting at a table under an awning, listening to Mr. Guitar Player pick along.  Soon after that, we left and went over to Ivywild.  They gave us beer coupons at the garlic festival, so we went over there, got a sausage plate, and drank our beers.  The sausage plate, by the way, had sweet pickles on it, which were apparently good if you like that kind of thing, which I don’t.  Guh.  I tried one, but no–there was no snapping into place of the flavors, no sudden reinterpretation.

I’ve been thinking about this for days.

About how our minds affect our taste buds.  About how our opinions affect our perceptions.   About how optimist, pessimist, and realist don’t really cover this.  (The pessimist is guaranteed to hate garlic ice cream; the optimist is guaranteed to at least try the garlic ice cream but will probably taste the same thing the pessimist does; the realist is guaranteed to eat garlic ice cream.  What is it, what outlook on life is it, that can go, “this isn’t garlic ice cream–this is cold garlic cheese spread”?  A sales mentality?)

I keep running into things that make me go, “You’re not seeing what’s in front of you.   You’re seeing garlic ice cream, not cold garlic cheese spread.”

Because I’m a writer, I think about how this affects my books.  Is a book better because people say it is?  Once Twilight became Twilight, was it all but impossible for some people to like it?

I’m still pondering.  How much of what I see is completely warped by my opinion?  Not just a little better or a little worse than I would otherwise think it?  But completely different? How much of what I wrote above is even true?

I don’t know.  But I do know that I have Exo protein bars (made with cricket flour) coming to the house.  I hope they get here soon.