With all the spices and herbs known to man, none was revered and reviled as the garlic. Throughout the ages, using garlic for its culinary and therapeutic properties was adopted wholeheartedly to the point that it had been worshiped as a god in some ancient cultures. Yet it’s just been rejected for this very simple reason. When consumed raw, garlic leaves a powerful scent on the breath of the eater.
A member of the lily family, garlic has been called allium in Latin and conveys the contemporary scientific name Allium sativum. Romance languages, descended as they’re out of Latin, refer to it with phrases which are clearly derived from allium-aglio in Italian, ail in French, ajo in Spanish, albo in Portuguese, allo in Galician and aio in Provencal of which the aioli the garlic flavored mayonnaise initially came from.
Garlic itself is thought to be of German, Scandinavian, Nordic, Celtic, Anglo-Saxon or even Slavic origin (depending on what reference materials which you’re reading). It’s supposedly a mix of gar, a word for spear (a reference to the plant’s slender pointed stalks) and lac or leac, meaning leek.
A bit History
So shrouded in doubt is that the history of garlic that’s hard to determine where the plant originated. According to one account, it first appeared in Siberia, where it had been brought to Egypt from Asian nomadic tribes, and from Egypt it reached Europe after passing through India through the trade routes bound for southern Asia. Another account says it’s a native of the steppes of Central Asia and another claims that it came from Sicily.
For sure, there is 1 account that captures the imagination. According to Muslim legend, the garlic sprang from Satan’s left footprint (the onion looked in his right footprint) as he had been driven from the Garden of Eden after man’s fall. Throughout history, garlic was used to cure or stop just about every known malady such as headache, toothache, fatigue, constipation, wounds, sores, infections, gangrene, cough, cold, asthma, tuberculosis, epilepsy, rheumatism, dropsy, leprosy, smallpox, the plague, jaundice, eczema, rabies, scabies, scurvy, impotence, hysteria, senility, insanity, insect bites, intestinal worms as well as anthrax in cattle.
Garlic has also been used as a mean of diagnosing pregnancy, a cure for hair loss and an antidote for snake bites. In 1608, during an extremely infectious outbreak in London, French priests ministering to the suffering were spared by the deadly disease while English clergymen fell victim to it. The Frenchmen’s immunity has been attributed to the existence of garlic in their diet.
In 1722, garlic acquired the dubious reputation of being a powerful defense against the plague in which four burglars claimed that liberal use of garlic-flavored vinegar “immunized” them against the disease even as they plundered the corpses of their sufferer.
Garlic was believed to ward off malignant spirits, deter witches and repel blood-thirsty vampires from weak virgins. Modern research, on the other hand has yielded some astonishing findings. One study claims garlic may lower cholesterol by up to nine percent. Another says it can ease high blood pressure by delaying the hardening of the blood vessels. Other studies, claims it can prevent or heal a complete selection of illness, which range from the common cold and flu to cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Studies also have demonstrated that garlic is a powerful antibiotic effective at killing over 60 varieties of fungi and 20 strains of bacteria. It is said that the blood of garlic eaters may remove bacteria (this can explain the French priest’s immunity) and that vapor from freshly cut garlic may destroy bacteria at a distance of 20 centimeters.
There’s one study that indicates garlic may also increase physical endurance. Ancient Olympian athletes are believed to have chewed garlic to improve their strength and endurance and that laborers who built the pyramids were given a daily dose of garlic for the identical purpose.
As a food
Garlic is consumed today in almost every corner of the planet, even in countries where it was once scorned, such as Japan and England. One thing which makes garlic so universally accepted is its extensive flexibility. It can be eaten raw, sauteed, boiled, fried and roasted. It serves as a great flavoring for fish and seafood, poultry, red meat as well as a plain vegetables.
Finely chopped raw garlic can be blended into sauces and dips like hummus and guacamole. Garlic butter creates a superb garnish for anything which range from beef and pasta to escargots and French bread. Garlic chips may bring to life an otherwise dull bowl of congee.
Garlic amounts in marinades for American barbecue in addition to for Indonesian satay. Stir-fried dishes in China and Southeast Asia generally contain sauteed garlic. Garlic may be thrown into the skillet to boost the flavor of poultry, poultry, beef, or pork. It may be simmered to match other ingredients in a stew or boiled on its own to create sopa de ajo (Spanish garlic soup).
Garlic is as much as an important ingredient of Indian curries since it’s of Sichuan and Korean cuisine. It add zest to light salads as well as to heavy meat dishes. Pasta and pizza are almost unthinkable without garlic in order with the rice dishes such as the paella. The same could be said about chili con carne and entire selection of dishes from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego.
In terms of the garlic’s strange scent, here is a simple tip to remember. The garlic is cooked the milder its odor becomes. Contemporary urban folklore claims you may confidently meet one’s lover after a meal heavily flavored with garlic. Drink some red wine with your meal to conceal the odor of garlic on your breath. Alternatively, if you reside in Japan you can just zip into the nearest convenience store and drink one of these interested Japanese energy concoctions that miraculously erase all traces of garlic in your breath.
Tips on cooking with Garlic
So pervasive is garlic in Filipino cooking which besides the apparent sinigang and nilaga, it’s also an ingredients in many dishes such as adobo, mechado, menudo, kaldereta, relleno, paksiw, papaitan, pansit bihon, sarsiado, pinakbet, Bicol state and ecabeche.They all comprise garlic and they represent only a partial list of our garlic flavored culinary repertoire.
Most Filipino dishes are actually based on gisa, which nearly always entrails garlic and garlic sauteed just like a pair of inseparable twins. What few people realize is that the 2 bulbs really belong to the same genus of plants and you may sometimes dropped to improve the flavor of the finished dish. A bad habit that Filipinos would do that has to be adjusted is the general tendency to overcook garlic. Garlic is thrown into the hot oil until the onion and fried till it’s a crispy golden brown and sometimes even darker. Unless you’re making garlic chips, garlic shouldn’t be permitted to turn brown. Not only does this ruin the taste of garlic but it also imparts a somewhat bitter flavor to it. To rectify this old custom, I proposes sauteing the garlic along with the onion, not before.
One thing that our older cucineros and cucineras did right was to always crush the garlic. Nowadays some cooks tend to skip this process and just chop the garlic. This a lazy shortcut which needs to be avoided. It’s been demonstrated that crushing the cloves produces a chemical reaction which brings out the full flavor of garlic.