November 11, 2009
One could trace garlic back archaeologically to around 3,000 B.C. It was first discovered in Southwest Asia; where it was just considered as a plant. When garlic was first discovered, it had many uses. To some it was just used to add an extra taste to food, but to others it was used for medical purposes. Even the ancient Egyptians used it as part of the diet for the workers who helped to build the Pyramids of Gaza. Garlic itself has a certain life of its own. It has such a strong flavor to it, that any dish in which it is a part of definitely adds more of an extra something to it. Besides its strong flavor and medical purposes, in the medieval times garlic was used as a superstition; it was hung outside doors to scare away witches and vampires.
Garlic could be classified as either a vegetable or as an herb and it is one of the oldest plants known today. But in whichever way it is used, one can never forget that one has used garlic within their cooking. When you are buying garlic for cooking, be sure that you don’t buy the very large ones; it does not taste the same at all. This garlic is called elephant garlic, and as you may think that you’re getting more for your money, it’s definitely not the garlic that you are used to. There are many different meals and deserts that garlic acts as the main ingredient in, its’ range of use is somewhat surprising to say the least, from ice cream to cold vegetable dishes, to bruscetta and cheese spread. Since it has an exterior skin, it would be wise to take this off, before washing it. You could actually peel it back, or strike it with the flat end of your knife, which will of course loosen the skin. From there on, the user of the garlic has to decide what to do with it. Should he or she dice, slice or put in water or oil. It could be sautéed, broiled, boiled, fried and etc… It is such a universal product that almost anything could be done to it. But try not to forget that garlic tough looking as it is, is highly sensitive to heat, so be easy when you’re using it in heat or flame when using it to prepare your dishes.
Garlic has now reached a point, within not only the many world cuisines, but within our restaurants as well, where it is almost looked upon as the “Holy Grail”. Not only because of its’ taste, but health benefits as well. What is oil and spaghetti without garlic? Fresh garlic has for the most part enlivened countless of boring and otherwise tasteless dishes. Among the many ethnic restaurants within New York City, garlic has taken a second look at altogether. In such French Restaurants as Jean Georges and Le Bernadin, food would not exist without that certain touch of garlic. Well it might exist, but it definitely wouldn’t taste the same. Then again, all the Asian, Middle Eastern and African restaurants, all worship what was once considered as “just a plant”, garlic, because of its essence.
But besides its importance within the restaurant industry, garlic has also been revived within the many different American ethnic neighborhoods. Unless most of us come from Southern European, North African, Middle Eastern or Asian cultural backgrounds, our ancestors have no idea about planting garlic, when it comes to using garlic within our culinary lives. The basic point being, that though garlic is related to the water lily plant, it is best grown in warm climate. The most major area to grow garlic is Spain, Egypt, France, and Italy. However, the world’s greatest production of garlic is in California. If one was to plant garlic in his or her very own backyard, the best place to do so would have to be next to rose bushes, because they control greenflies. Single garlic cloves are planted annually late in the fall and are referred to as seeds, and it doesn’t get its flavor until...
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