Garlic comes from a region where summers are dry and hot and there’s very little precipitation. More precisely from the Kirgis desert region of Siberia. In this type of environment, the garlic starts to grow in the fall when there is some precipitation. During the winter and summer, it’s dormant and survives only because garlic cloves store a lot of food. Growth continues during the spring rains.
Garlic is known to almost every civilization in the world. Some very early mentions of garlic are:
- The King of Babylon had it grown in his garden during the 8th century B.C.,
- It was mentioned by Chinese scholars in Sanskrit writings in 3000 B.C.,
- Garlic was worshipped as a god by early Egyptians who also used it in the embalming process. Workers building the Great Pyramids used onion and garlic in their diets,
- Vikings, Phoenicians and Crusaders all recognized the garlic as a very valuable plant,
- Hippocrates thought that garlic was very good for many ailments,
- Mohammed the Prophet thought that it eased the pain of wounds.
Hanging a wreath of garlic outside the door of a dwelling or by a window was believed to frighten away witches and vampires.
Garlic had arrived in America by the 1920s but was used mostly in ethnic dishes in working-class neighbourhoods. In 1920 diner slang it was called Bronx vanilla, halitosis and Italian perfume. Of these, my favourite is Italian perfume. Imagine it on the market in the perfume section?
Some garlic sayings are as follows:
“Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good!” – Alice May Brock
“A nickel will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat.” – Old New York Yiddish Saying
By the 1940s America not only recognized garlic as a seasoning but as a major ingredient. Today California produces over 500 million pounds of garlic each year. Gilroy, California holds the Gilroy Garlic Festival annually from the 27th to the 29th of July. Many thousands of people come to enjoy this festival which was established to provide benefits to local worthy charities and non – profit groups. On the average Americans consume more than 250 million pounds of garlic each year.
Garlic has been known to prevent everything from the common cold to the flu. Raw garlic can be used to treat acne and possibly it may help to manage high cholesterol levels. It is also effectively used as a mosquito repellent.
Garlic is being studied for its medicinal and industrial properties:
Russian doctors – for its effects on cancer,
Japanese scientists – testing patients with lumbago and arthritis,
Indian doctors – to prevent the development of arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure and hypertension.
Industrially – when distilled with water garlic cloves, isolate an oil containing compounds necessary for the creation of olefin molecules used to manufacture extreme pressure lubricants, sealants in the glass insulation industry and binders in solid propellants for rockets.
Of course, the best way to enjoy garlic is chopped, minced, pressed fresh or cooked in many different types of food its delicious aroma filling the kitchen. You’ll be healthier for it and this Halloween Count Dracula won’t be knocking on your door.
Garlic storage – whole garlic bulbs 3 -4 months, individual cloves 5 – 10 days. These should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place.
Peeled garlic cloves can be sealed in a jar with olive oil and refrigerated. Will keep fresh 3 – 4 months.