G is for Garlic

Ah, garlic!  The “stinking rose,” that humble bulb, so powerful in flavor, so prevalent in legend and lore!

garlic1

Revered for thousands of years – the pharaohs included garlic in the meager diet of the slaves, to give them endurance in building the pyramids….garlic was an aphrodisiac in ancient Greece and in Palestine….

pyramid         greece

Greek athletes ate garlic before competition to increase their strength….Roman soldiers consumed garlic to give them courage on the battlefield.  greece war

Garlic has long been reputed to ward off devils, werewolves, and vampires.

werewolf [221x177]vampire [246x164]

Also tigers – Korean folklore recommends eating garlic before setting off on a mountain pass, because tigers dislike it and will avoid the traveler.

tiger korea

There is a factual basis to much of this lore.

Garlic does enter the blood stream — which is why brushing your teeth after eating a lot of garlic is only a temporary breath enhancer, and perspiration will exude the aroma of garlic for up to 24 hours.

Garlic has been reported to be helpful in reducing cholesterol levels. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Babylonians, and Romans all used garlic for healing purposes, and Louis Pasteur in 1858 confirmed that garlic has antibacterial properties. During World War I, garlic was used to treat wounds because penicillin, although invented, was in short supply.

garlic [214x192]

Garlic is used to repel slugs and other vermin, and is supposed to be helpful in preventing ticks on dogs.  Allegedly it has a deterrent effect on mosquitoes (although I eat a lot of garlic and mosquitoes track me down in the *winter* to feast on my blood, so I’m not sure about this claim)

For me, garlic the single spice I could not do without. I could even, in a pinch (haha) go without salt. But garlic is a necessity. I draw the line at garlic wine or garlic ice cream, but I love to add it to almost everything savory – sauces, sautés, meats, fish, veggies….

Which is why I’m positive that garlic really does repel vampires and werewolves:

All that garlic I consume, and Eric Northman has never dropped by for a bite 😦

Eric vampire [300x225]

Neither has Alcide, the leader of the pack…

Alcide [300x224]

[Kids, take note! this is a perfect example of a correlation, not causation]

For a tasty, vampire-werewolf-avoiding dish, try this recipe for Garlic Roasted Cauliflower

garlic roasted cauli [302x202] The cauliflower gets all golden brown on the edges, the garlic roasts to melt-in-your mouth squishiness, and the flavor permeates it all without being too overwhelming.

You can just use cauliflower, or add broccoli or baby carrots or chunks of zucchini.

Or toss in pieces of bacon, which crisp up as the veggies roast. Sprinkle some grated Parmesan over the top, maybe mixed in with toasted breadcrumbs, for a crunchy topping.

garlic cauli bacon      garlic cauli crumbs

I’m a gadget junkie. Next to browsing bookstores, I can spend almost as much time roaming the aisles of places like Williams-Sonoma and culinary stores, examining all the different gizmos. So I’ve got a a collection of handy dandy garlic peelers, crushers, slicers, etc.

garlic press 1 [165x218]  garlic press 3 [223x143]garlic press 2 [166x213]  garlic press 4 [162x218]garlic press 7 [176x188] garlic press 5

But I’ve found the easiest way to peel garlic is to place the clove on the cutting board, put the broad side of a knife over it, and then press. (Some people like to whack it, which is fun and noisy, but not necessary)

garlic knife [235x166] garlic crush [224x245]

The clove squishes (there’s probably a proper culinary term for ‘squish’ but I don’t know what it is) — and it’s easy to pick off the papery skin.

Even easier — if you use garlic a lot, like I do – that big bag of peeled cloves from CostCo is an incredible convenience.

garlic ready

I’m not feeding a family every night, so even I won’t get through such a big bag before it spoils, so I keep it in the freezer. When I’m cooking and want garlic, I just reach for a couple or half dozen cloves, and just toss them in the skillet or pot.

garlic wreath [201x236

“The only advice I can give to aspiring writers is don’t do it unless you’re willing to give your whole life to it.

Red wine and garlic also helps.” – Jim Harrison

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6 thoughts on “G is for Garlic

    • Heh…it was a bit of a stretch incorporating them into a food post but I couldn’t resist ;-p
      You’re right, roasted garlic is actually almost sweet. Sometimes I just roast garlic by itself and then spread it on lightly toasted baguette…heavenly!

  1. I really like your post for G. My mom raised me in such a way that she rarely used spices for anything, not even salt. So most people might think her food was bland, but when that is what you’re used to you don’t know any better. I think that garlic can add some nice flavoring to food.

    • No salt, even?? that does sound bland…but, a little goes a long way. It’s fun to experiment with spices, but I’ve learned, start with a pinch and work your way up ;-p

  2. Hi I don’t know if they still have that Garlic Festival in Gilroy. The Bay Area has always been crazy about garlic. And we all know that’s a good way to keep vampires away. But judging from the “hunkies” from TRUE BLOOD you worked into your blog post you would prefer that they hung around. Gordon.

    • Yes, the Gilroy Garlic Festival is still going strong! http://gilroygarlicfestival.com/
      July 26th-27th-28th this year.
      I guess I love garlic too much to give it up on the slight possibility that Eric and Alcide might visit ;-D (what with them being all fictional, and all….;-p)

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