I figured out that cooking tip I’ve seen a million places that says “Smack the garlic cloves with the flat of your knife to easily peel them.” My previous attempts were oriented toward the idea that the garlic itself would come shooting out of the skin, or that it would pop out whole, or maybe that the skin would vaporize with the impact.
It’s more like cutting glass, where you have to score it and then give it a firm thump. You’re not trying to completely remove the skin, just break it. Think of it like a balloon, with the garlic inside. You’re not crushing the skin, you’re popping it. It will still completely surround the clove of garlic, but, with the shape of the clove distorted by your whack, the skin is no longer a perfect fit and doesn’t cling to the clove.
Wimpy cooks didn’t have any trouble figuring this out because they never whacked their garlic too hard in the first place.