1. Cut off the stalks and feathery tops of the fennel bulbs and reserve for another use. Trim off the rough outside leaves. Cut the bulbs in halves or quarters lengthwise. Remove the tough central core.
2. In a pan large enough to hold all the fennel in one layer, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until pale gold.
3. Discard the garlic and place the fennel in the pan. Saute, turning often until the fennel pieces take on a golden color, about 10 minutes.
4.Add the water or vegetable broth and salt and cover the pan. Braise until tender, about 20 minutes longer. Add additional water or broth if needed until the fennel is tender and golden. Do not be afraid to let it get rather brown and the sauce syrupy.
5.Note: You can make this dish without the garlic. Toasted slivered almonds can be sprinkled over the top just before serving.