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  • Writer's picturegfmeade7


I recall my very first taste of garlic when having my dinner cooked by a family friend we stayed with for a few days as a child. She had previously worked as a young au pair in Paris in the sixties and had acquired some cooking skills that were alien to what I had been used to up until that life changing culinary exposure. There were aromas coming from her kitchen that seriously interrupted my senses. Now in aged her eighties I still visit her every year down in the west of Ireland and cook a dinner for her in return for those amazing meals she made producing classic sauces and using one particular ingredient that really hit me full on and that was garlic.

Then learning to work with it myself as a chef later on I realised what an amazing gift from nature it is. Now everyone should have a daily dose of it. Garlic really does pack a punch for something so small but it is powerful. It does get a bad rap for leaving a smell on your breath but there are ways to counteract this like simply brushing your teeth, swigging some mouthwash or chewing a gum. Drinking milk and eating some parsley also relieve the odour. It’s all a small price though for what you get in return.

Firstly, it’s delicious, what it brings to a recipe is amazing; think garlic bread, garlic mayonnaise or garlic butter. Marinating meats and fish, roasting vegetables, the list is infinite. All world cuisines use it abundantly. Preparing it is not as bad as before garlic crushers came along which makes it very quick to mince up once you peel the skin off. Just be careful to wash chopping boards and run them and the knives you use with a wedge of lemon to help lift the residual scent.

It’s important not to burn it either, start it slowly in oil in cold pans or pots to really get it working and quickly get other ingredients in after it. With stir fries for example leave it till close to the end for a real hit as the high heat at the start will kill it. Regarding the shop bought garlic puree mixes, forget them, nothing beats the real deal. Locally we even have our very first proper Irish garlic farm over in Baltray, County Louth at Drommond house who produce the best there is and which you can visit too. The Collier family will be delighted to give you the full garlic story and tour. I met them a couple of times and they are very passionate about it.

But it’s all about the body and what garlic does for you; it’s universally well recognised that it’s a wonder food. If you just do not want to eat it then of course you can just swallow capsules but either way you must get it into you. One way to get used to it is just to slow roast the cloves whole in a little oil in their skins for thirty minutes and then pop out the tasty sweet flesh afterwards, it does not taste as strong this way. Spread on toasted bread and it is amazing.

This feisty cousin of the onion has been used since ancient times for its medicinal properties by the Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks and Romans who all knew there was something magical about this special food. Its potent sulphur compounds may not have been as well understood as they are today but we know now it affects combating colds, reduces blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, helps bone health and even contributes to fighting dementia say some scientists.

Also with very low calories you can eat as much as you like. So Dracula might not have been fond of it but if you eat garlic daily you will certainly be scaring off some of the world’s ills!

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