Allium sativum, garlic or the Stinking Rose are all names for that little bulb that stirs such passions. Either you love it or you hate it. You think the odour is enough to choke a dog off a meat wagon or you love the perfume as it heralds the possibility of another flavourful delight. I admit to swelling the ranks of the second category.
I once passed through Gilroy, California, (“Garlic Capital of the world”) and was astounded by the smell of the raw bulb that floated like a fog for miles around. Delicious and appetising for us tourists just moseying through but what of the local folks? Do they all love the aroma day after day after day after day……..? Before the 1920’s well-heeled Americans had an aversion to the stuff, referring to it as “Bronx Vanilla” as it was considered to be a seasoning associated with the new poor immigrants such as the Italians and the Chinese! How times change!
Now, it’s not just France, the US and all points south that have a good garlic-growing reputation. Isle of Wight Garlic gained national fame when MP, Steve Ross, announced in the House of Commons that he had a constituent who was exporting garlic to France – it was sold in Marks and Spencer’s in Paris!
It’s been recorded throughout history as having both culinary and medical uses. Its raw self has a strong, hot, spicy flavour that changes to a sweeter, more aromatic, and some say more acceptable, flavour when cooked. Garlic has long been considered a herbal “wonder drug”, with a reputation for preventing everything from the common cold to the Plague and has been used by some to treat the symptoms of acne! It’s often taken as a herbal colesterol reducer and can be found in capsules for those who just can’t stand the taste.
Did you know that you can use crushed garlic as a poultice which, when bandaged to the feet overnight, can deliver garlic breath to the wearer by breakfast time the next day? I should admit that your writer hasn’t actually tried it but it’s said to have the same medicinal qualities when administered in this fashion, as eating the bulb! So just eat the bulb I’d say!
I pass on to you, dear reader, one of my favourite recipes using garlic. In fact it uses garlic as the star ingredient but it’s sweet and delicious.
Persian Pickled Garlic
4 – 6 heads of garlic
2 small dried hot peppers
1 cup sugar
2 cups red wine vinegar
2 cups water
6 whole cloves (the spice)
2½ tablespoons black peppercorns
½ small cinnamon stick (optional)
Separate garlic cloves, but do not peel the thin paper.
Place all ingredients in a large heavy-bottom saucepan.
Bring to the boil and continue for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
Put into sealable glass jars
Wait for 6 weeks before eating.
Article and recipe by Chrissie Walker © 2018