Sunday, April 19, 2009

Grand, Glorious, GARLIC!

Ok, so today is National Garlic Day - that day we pay homage to this interesting little bulb that you either love or hate. Personally, I like the flavor of garlic in food - as long as it's not overwhelming - and I just follow one simple rule when it comes to eating it. I make sure the people around me are eating it as well!

I've perused the web and found a wealth of fun facts about this great little vegetable that has found its way into the pantries and hearts of people the world over. Read on...

(Note - all of the photos included are great items from Etsy shops - which goes to show, you can find virtually EVERYTHING on Etsy!)

  • Garlic is a member of the onion family which also includes leeks and shallots. (Making it both a vegetable and an herb)
  • It's also a relative of the lily, and a mature plant has lovely lily-like flowers in shades of white, pink, or purple.
  • Its pungent flavor is due to a chemical reaction that occurs when the garlic cells are broken. The flavor is most intense just after mincing. (although cooking actually makes the flavor more mild, nutty, and sweet!)
  • Garlic may be the world's next wonder drug! Ongoing studies are finding that garlic may ward off heart disease, cancer, colds, and flu. Eating garlic also lowers blood cholesterol levels. and reduces the buildup of plaque in the arteries. In 1858, Louis Pasteur documented that garlic kills bacteria, with one millimeter of raw garlic juice proving as effective as 60 milligrams of penicillin - AND, it doesn't destroy good bacteria in the intestinal tract like antibiotics do! During World War I, when penicillin and sulfa drugs were scarce, garlic solutions were used as an antiseptic to disinfect open wounds and prevent gangrene. It has even been used to treat acne, warts, and toothaches and athlete's foot. Garlic oil is a safe treatment for ear infections - especially in babies and young children. (No wonder it's considered a superfood!)
  • Egyptians fed garlic to the slaves building the pyramids to increase their strength.
  • In ancient Greece and Rome, garlic enjoyed a variety of uses, from repelling scorpions to treating dog bites and bladder infections to curing leprosy and asthma.
  • In the Middle Ages garlic was used to combat the plague and was hung in braided strands across the entrances of houses to prevent evil spirits from entering. (This is probably where the connection between garlic and vampires was born!) The scientific community hasn't been able to confirm garlic’s effect on evil spirits, but I can tell you from experience, it has been proven that garlic, at the least, may prevent a goodnight kiss at the end of a date.
  • Brides carried bouquets of garlic and other herbs instead of flowers at ancient Greek and Roman marriage ceremonies. In some cultures, Grooms wore cloves of garlic in their buttonholes to guarantee a happy wedding night. (hmmm... sounds a bit kinky to me!)
  • If you have a fear of garlic, you suffer from alliumphobia. (I feel a little like Lucy Van Pelt right now!)
  • The majority of garlic (90%) grown in the United States comes from California, although the world's biggest supplier is China (Is there ANYTHING that that country doesn't mass produce?)
  • In the garden, garlic will ward off Japanese beetles, and spritzing your rose bushes or other plants will keep aphids away.
  • When picking out garlic at the grocery store, choose firm, tight, heavy dry bulbs. Elephant garlic has a slightly milder flavor than the more common varieties.
  • If your garlic has sprouted, it is still usable although it has lost some of its flavor and health benefits.
  • Garlic has even found its way into the realm of desserts. Recipes for garlic ice-cream, gelato, sorbet, cheesecake and even garlic-chocolate chip cookies are all available on the Internet and some of the garlic festivals dish up these goodies to garlic loving guests. Before you say blech... remember that roasted garlic is very sweet and nutty, so don't knock it until you've tried it!

  • So, enjoy National Garlic Day by indulging in your favorite garlic-laden dish, if you are so inclined! Here's my husband's recipe for Lobster scampi (it's his traditional birthday treat meal!) - I probably would adjust the garlic amounts for taste, but it is oh, so yummy! If you want to be a little more heart healthy, use half butter or margarine and half extra-virgin olive oil. This recipe serves 4.

    Lobster Scampi

    1 lb. (3 cups) lobster meat, cut into chunks
    1/2 cup butter or margarine
    3 tbsp. chopped garlic
    1 cup dry white wine
    1/2 cup clam juice or chicken broth (your preference - we've done both
    salt and pepper to taste
    chopped parsley for garnish
    3 cups cooked rice or 1 lb. cooked pasta (if you want to be totally decadent, this goes wonderfully with aglio e olio (pasta with garlic and oil)

    In a medium sauté pan, melt half the butter and add the garlic. Cook until tender, about 1-2 minutes. Add wine, juice or broth and salt & pepper. Add the lobster meat and return to a simmer. Lower the heat, then add the remaining butter. Simmer until butter melts, lobster is cooked through and sauce thickens slightly.
    Serve immediately over pasta or rice and top with parsley.


Baroness Bijoutery said...

The Recipe sounds just yummy, I like garlic but the lobster is even better:) Thanks for all the great info about garlic..who knew..

hedgehogstudio said...

I live very close to Gilroy about an hour and a half. Last time I went to the Garlic Fest the traffic was a 4 hour wait on the freeway to get into Gilroy. Turned around and went back home. :-(

Robert said...

I completely agree. Garlic is what I take whenever I get sick. It's wonderful.

Mary Ann said...

I LOVE garlic and all your fun facts.

FlyingButtons said...

Thank you for the history and the recipe! I LOVE garlic. I just planted an old garlic bulb in one of my houseplants for fun: and now it is growing, and the houseplant has never looked better or healthier!!! I've been meaning to research this, maybe garlic helps plants grow!

Kristin :)

BPR Designs said...

My husband is a gardener and garlic is his "thing" now. He grows about 12-15 different kinds and no one leaves our house from June through December without a brown paper bag full of heads of garlic. But at least it's not zucchini!

CurlyfrySC's Collage said...

Like this post!
Garlic is yummy. My husband loves it even more.

I like how you added all those facts and even a recipe!

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