We use a lot of garlic in this family, and while mincing (the old-fashioned way, with a knife) is my preference, Morgen likes the convenience of a garlic press. But she doesn’t like cleaning the garlic press, and the fact that it tends to leave a good bit of the clove behind means you miss out on some of that great flavor. Several months ago, we got a Williams-Sonoma catalog in the mail, and as usual I pored over it carefully, making a mental list of all the latest kitchen gadgets I absolutely need. One item immediately popped out as a great birthday present for my wife: the Garlic Genius, a $40 device that supposedly creates perfectly minced garlic with just a few twists. No mess, no tedious chopping. And, of course, it would be a nicely self-serving gift, because I’d get just as much use out of it as she would.
Alas, on the day I went to order, Williams-Sonoma was out of stock (and it was an Internet-only product, so I couldn’t just go to the local retail store). Luckily, I found another source. Morgen loved the present, and we were excited to try it out.
Let me cut to the chase: From an engineering standpoint, the Garlic Genius is extremely clever. It does indeed cut garlic into nearly perfect cubes, about 3 mm on a side, as you twist the top of the cylinder. But from a usability standpoint, it’s not so hot. For one thing, the twisting action takes a considerable amount of force, and it gets harder to turn the farther you go. It also takes a lot of turns to get through just a couple of garlic cloves, because the device’s screw threads are narrowly spaced. And, since you’re not only applying effort to turn the top but pressure to keep your grip on it, your hand is likely to get pretty sore. (Another device of the same name, but with a different casing, at least has knobs on the top to help you keep your grip.) A better design would have been one that, like a can opener, makes good use of hand geometry to provide leverage.
Then there’s cleaning. If you thought a garlic press was a pain to clean, that’s nothing. This device comes apart (not that easily) into quite a few pieces, each with its own nooks and crannies. Cleaning all the little garlic bits out of all these parts, and then reassembling the unit, is not pleasant.
Is it, on the whole, less hassle than just using a knife? Maybe, depending on your knife skills and how highly you value uniformity of size in your minced garlic. But on the whole it was a bit of a disappointment. It’s not really a garlic genius—it’s merely clever.