Thursday, September 13, 2007

Garlic, How I Love Thee

"Do not eat garlic or onions; for their smell will reveal that you are a peasant."
Cervantes, Don Quixote (1614)

Peasant I am, then!

When I was in culinary school, we were taught to start nearly every savory dish with the almighty trilogy: clarified butter, garlic and shallots. We would spend countless hours peeling and mincing garlic by hand, most often with our chef's knives. I would go home, reeking of garlic, and hoping my husband and two small daughters, wouldn't mind.

"No one is indifferent to garlic. People either love it or hate it, and most good cooks seem to belong in the first group."
- Faye Levy

Once our class took over running the restaurant, we would encounter specific requests from customers--no sauce, no salt, leave off the olives--and things of that nature. One night, however, the maître d' walked in and inquired of the chefs on the line which dishes were made without garlic. The normally bustling kitchen came to an immediate standstill as we all turned to stare, open-mouthed, at this ludicrous notion. Our professor looked confused for a mere moment then turned abruptly and started barking orders. Whatever this customer would get, it would be fresh--but sadly, to my palate--tasteless.

"There are many miracles in the world to be celebrated and, for me, garlic is the most deserving."
Leo Buscaglia

I cannot imagine asking for a dish without garlic; in fact, there is hardly a savory dish I make--no matter what the recipe states--without the addition of garlic, and when I realize it is absent from the recipe, I always wonder why. It is fundamental to cooking; it is both complex and simple, making it a truly indispensable food. Food? Yes, FOOD; not herb, accompaniment, spice or seasoning. Garlic is, in and of itself, a highly desirable and much loved food. Italian, French, and German food would be nothing without it. Aioli would cease to exist. The travesty that the world would be without garlic is unfathomable. A day without garlic is like a day without air…if you don’t agree, that’s OK, I’ll forgive you. After all, we can’t all be right, can we?

“It is not really an exaggeration to say that peace and happiness begin, geographically, where garlic is used in cooking.”
X. Marcel Boulestin

The history of garlic dates back to anywhere between 4000 and 6000 years ago, depending on which source you are using. I would love to think that garlic was growing right alongside the tomatoes and olives that I dream were the first vegetation planted by God. It may be a relative of the onion, it may not have been eaten at first (some wouldn’t touch it beyond medicinal purposes), and some may think it to be “stinking” (poor misguided Henri Leclerc). I, however am of like mind with Louis Diat.

“Without garlic I simply would not care to live.”
Louis Diat (1885-1958)

I’ll not bore you with details of the full history--you can find that for yourself in a simple Google search--I will, however, share a recipe and a few more quotes with you.

Garlic Soup with Chicken

Ready In: 1 hour
Serves: 6-8
Printable Recipe

1 whole chicken - about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds, cut up
2 carrots peeled and diced
2 stalks celery diced
1 large onion diced
2 heads garlic - peel 10 cloves and set aside
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
Freshly cracked pepper and Kosher salt
4 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour

1. Put vegetables in the bottom of a large soup pot and add chicken, unpeeled garlic cloves (a little more than 1 head of garlic) and herbs. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Turn heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
2. Remove chicken and garlic cloves and set aside.
3. Strain broth and return to pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by about one-third.
4. When chicken is cool enough to handle, chop into bite sized pieces and set aside.
5. Squeeze softened garlic from skins and add 1 teaspoon Kosher salt. Mash into a paste (a mortar and pestle works well for this) and set aside.
6. Heat butter in a small skillet over very low heat. Add the 10 peeled garlic cloves and cook until cloves just begin to brown. Remove cloves with a slotted spoon and add to mashed garlic and mash these together as well.
7. Add flour to butter and whisk until a paste forms. Add mashed garlic to flour and butter and whisk until well combined. Add all to chicken broth. Heat until slightly thickened and add chopped chicken back into the pot. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

*(posted in several forms all over the 'net!)

“Provençal cooking is based on garlic. The air in Provence is impregnated with the aroma of garlic, which makes it very healthful to breathe. Garlic is the main seasoning in bouillabaisse and in the principal sauces of the region. A sort of mayonnaise is made with it by crushing it in oil, and this is eaten with fish and snails. The lower classes in Provence often lunch on a crust of bread sprinkled with oil and rubbed with garlic.”
Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine

"The rabble who had joined the people were overcome by greed, and the Sons of Israel began to wail again, 'Who will give us meat to eat?' They said, 'Think of the fish we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic! Here we are, wasting away, stripped of everything: there is nothing but manna for us to look at."
- The Bible (Numbers 11: 4-6)

“There are five elements: earth, air, fire, water and garlic.”
Louis Diat


KFarmer said...

I'm half ashamed to admit that I never cooked with garlic until a few years ago when a good friend (ahem~you) told me about it. My om never used garlic so I had no idea it was so tasty and good. I don't and won't run out of it now. Its in practically every dish I serve up. Garlic is KING~ Great post :P

Anonymous said...

I love garlic. I love this site too! Man i live to eat and not eat to live.

Heather said...

There is nothing better than roasted brie and garlic...YUM! (Of course you smell pretty bad the next day, but SO worth it and your blood is healthy!)

My grandmother used to eat garlic every day to lower her blood pressure and sure enough, when she passed away it was not of a stroke. I like to think it's because the garlic did it's job!

Fruity said...

I love garlic, can't do without it and garlie is good for us. Thinking of garlie bread now..

God bless you and hope everything will be fine and perfect as before. Cheers from Fruity

eyes_only4him said...

I LOVE garlic....

in anything..

excpet desert of course.

Unknown said...

I am a big fan of garlic. It seems that we also have fresh garlic added to at least one dish each evening. I am also a big fan of Cooking with and your family remain in my thoughts and prayers as your husband recovers.


Anonymous said...

I completely heart garlic, and garlic hearts my heart, so I'm good with that.

Love the quotes and I really love that there is a Garlic Soup with Chicken rather than merely Chicken Soup with Garlic.

Susan Voisin said...

I wanted to alert you to the fact that the contents of your blog are being stolen and put on the following site:

If you scroll past the first entries (which are stolen from Kalyn's Kitchen) you'll find a lot of your writing. Others are already complaining about their work being stolen by this blog, and I thought you should know about it.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Anne Coleman said...

Thanks, Susan! I've contacted the necessaries and will "out" them here on my own blog.

Jenni said...

Anne--my dad eats a whole head of garlic every day...for breakfast! Yes, he cooks it in the microwave under a special little cooker and then it is mild and soft. I think it tastes good too, but...I haven't tried it at breakfasttime yet.

And when I smell garlic? Yep...I think my dad is near!

Unknown said...

I am now subjecting my co-workers to the aroma from the soup my wife made based on your recipe. 15 cloves!!! Yum!
We love garlic and I have been growing it for a few years now. It is my most reliable and satisfying crop. I plant about 100+ each Oct-Nov and wait in anticipation for the first sprouts to come up in Spring. It is my official marker for the start of Spring.

Melanie said...

Garlic fans here, too! Sometimes I will be cooking supper when my DH comes home, and he says it smells so good when all I've done so far is saute onions and garlic!

Kikilia said...

This recipe looks great... Just a question though.

You say the cloves should be peeled- but then the recipe says to squeeze them from the skins... which way should it be?

Anne Coleman said...

K--look a bit closer ;o)

There is a whole head unpeeled IN ADDITION TO 10 cloves peeled! Hyper-garlic!

Anne Coleman said...

Peter, I vow each year to plant in October, and then somehow "forget". I'll have to remember, one of these years!

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way about garlic. Couldn't live without it. It's amazing how many recipes include this essential ingredient. I love just eating roasted garlic....yum!

ctdweller said...

I too, use garlic in practically everything I cook. It helps that I am hypertensive so almost always I have a very good excuse to eat lots of garlic.

Just last night I cooked something we call 'okoy' or shrimp patties. It's a local dish made of tiny shrimps combined with grated squash, eggs and then formed into patties before frying. And then there is the dip. Yes, the dip. That's where loads of garlic go with chillis, salt, pepper and vinegar.

Thanks for allowing me to share my love for garlic.

Mercina said...

What a great article! I agree with you 100% I LOVE garlic and I always cook with it.

Adopted Son said...

I have made a new Garlic convert: Leah. I took the kids to Bertucci's the other day and we were served the fresh baked rolls and a plate of olive oil, fresh garlic, crushed peppers, and oregano. Leah LOVED the garlic. Takes after the old man in that regard, ya know.