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Sunday, 3 October 2010

Mmmm! Garlic!

Garlic: A member of the onion family, which is sold dried only. The white or pink skin encloses small, curved segments known as cloves. These are surrounded by a thin layer of papery skin which must be peeled off. Buy garlic in small quantities only, as one bulb goes a long way. Store in a dry, dark place. Season:All year.



Reader’s Digest. The Cookery Year.


Pink garlic
 I love the taste and smell of garlic and have fond memories of hiking up in Derbyshire on the latter part of the Bakewell to Buxton road and getting a hit of wild garlic growing in huge swathes along by the river Derwent. I have also had a similar experience when cycling locally in the summer, along the tow path that runs alongside the river Trent, skirting Clifton village. If you stop to look (which I often do) the white flowers and big leathery leaves look super and the pungent aroma is powerfully sweet issueing forth, en mass.


I expect my first taste of garlic in cooking would have been in garlic bread in the 1980s when I started to appreciate food more after leaving home and living with my actor friend Mike. Mike liked to cook and was older than me and I learnt a lot from him. It is unlikely that I would have been ‘brave’ enough to use garlic in my own cooking at that time in my life. Mike also introduced me to Indian restaurants where it is very likely that the bulb would have been used in their cooking. When I lived with my parents garlic was just something that was mentioned on the Cliff Mitchelmore Holiday tv programme or in the Dracula films. My Dad couldn’t stand the smell of curries or ‘foreign muck’ as he used to call it. There's a blog post all of its own. Hold that page. Actually, hold several pages!


As is well known, the French use garlic a lot in their cuisine, mainly in tomato based dishes and with shellfish, stews, soups and in herb butter. Of course there are also the well known dishes of chicken with forty cloves of garlic and the rich garlic soup, Tourin d’ail, from Gascony. They also enjoy garlic croutons, garlic gratin, garlic prawns, pistou and snails (escargots)with hot garlic , which I love.



Nowadays, I use it in my own stews from time to time and add half a dozen cloves into a roasting dish to enhance the flavour of the meat. You can also roast whole garlic heads and when mashed they taste creamy and mild, not at all overpowering. Occasionally I will anoint my stir fries with a crushed or finely chopped clove. When nobody else is around to smell my breath a clove eaten raw can taste great and it keeps away the vampires!


knocking up a stir fry

PS: Am I alone in this? I love the sound of the garlic being squeezed out of the garlic crusher and the feel in my hand of the pressure as it emerges through the holes.



PPS: Did you know that the Romans used to eat raw garlic before going into battle and they believed it gave them strength?

9 comments:

John Medd said...

You're pushing at an open door here Phil. Though where do you stand on Lazy Garlic? We've always got some on standby.

Phil Lowe said...

Hi John, if you mean the stuff in the tubes then yes why not. I don't use it much myself but that's only cos I'm not in the habit of buying it like that. I'll have a click on your Lazy Garlic link as well. Cheers.

Janette said...

I adore using garlic in my cooking - problem is because I can't smell it on me or others I never know if I use too much!

Phil Lowe said...

John: I've checked out Lazy Garlic. Looks good. The whole range looks nice actually esp the Lazy Ginger.

Dot: re: Facebook comment. Wet garlic sounds intrigueing. Thanks for letting me know.

Phil Lowe said...

Janette: Sounds like you are using just enough then.

Karen said...

I adore garlic, & use it several times a week. I've got small Spanish garlic bulbs, a huge fat French pink bulb, & a big white French bulb, & I bet they'll all be gone by the end of the month. My Dad also calls anthing with even a hint of garlic 'foreign muck' but he hasn't realised my Mum's been using it in casseroles for years. I can't imagine cooking without it, along with lemons, olive oil & pasta, it's an essential in my kitchen.

Gailsman said...

I use Lazy Garlic when I'm doing my version of a spag bol. I would never bother using it, if it wasn't for Gail.

Karen said...

Do try wet garlic Phil - nice & mild, & lovely gently roasted for a short time,then squished into creamy mashed potato. Or used fresh,chopped, mixed with oil & drizzled over a slice/wodge of proper bread.

French Fancy... said...

I love roasted garlic and always throw a few cloves in with the rest of the veg. Any other way I find it a bit too over-powering for my delicate taste buds (grin).