Garlic: Old Wives’ Tales and New Chefs’ Secrets

The world is full of suggestions as to what you should do to maintain optimum health and of course, fend off evil-minded vampires, but no comestible has more cures attached to it then the humble garlic clove. Apparently, it can get confusing trying to sort fact from fiction when sizing up this fragrant food. In an attempt to come to your aid, I will clarify and separate the truth from the trumped up.

Portrait of an funny looking camel

  •  During the reign of King Tut, fifteen pounds of garlic would buy a healthy male slave.  MYTH. Fifteen pounds of garlic would get you two full grown camels. The healthy male slave was free, but only if you had the weekly flyer coupon that came in the PennySaver.
  • The ancient Greek name for garlic was scorodon. FACT. Several marketing teams tried to get the public to catch on to ‘Stinking Rose,’ but gave up after plummeting sales. Eventually folks just switched over to calling it garlic because it sounded so similar to scorodon. 
  • Historically, garlic has been used around the world to treat many conditions, including hypertension, infections, and snakebites, and some cultures have used it to ward off evil spirits. FACT. Garlic has indeed been used to fight off all of the above but has been replaced by more common and powerful medicines for everything except the last example. Glaxo Smith Cline is continually trying to come up with something in pill form that will drive back demons. Thus far, garlic is still all we have.
  • When Moses led the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt (around 1,200 BC), they complained of missing the finer things in life – fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic.  MYTH. You have been misled by someone messing with historical prose. It should have read; When Moses led the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt (around 1,200 BC), they complained. Being married into a Jewish family, I think I can speak from experience.
  •  Brides-to-be were “beaten” with garlic stalks to protect them from future illness and ensure that they bore healthy children. FACT. And this explains why the husbands of newly wed women bitterly complained of bland, unappetizing dinners during their early marriages. 

    Mascot of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, photogra...

    Mascot of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, photographed about 3 p.m. in Christmas Hill Park. The festival is held every summer in Gilroy, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Gilroy, California is known as the “Garlic Capital of the World.” FACT. Years ago, the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce decided to celebrate the small town’s extensive population of GAELIC settlers by proudly advertising it with a sign at the town border but were aghast when the sign company revealed a misprint. Having a small budget at the time, they voted to go with the new slogan and now are forced to celebrate a yearly  festival specializing in garlic infused whisky.

So now that you’re clear on the subject, I’d like to offer YOU an opportunity to determine one more bit of fact or fiction with the hopes you’ll report back to me for the new broadsheet I plan to publish and pass out during town hall meetings and local sit-ins.
Is it truly possible to peel a head of garlic in ten seconds or less?
Saveur magazine seems to think so, and Executive Food Editor Todd Coleman demonstrates just how to do it in this quick video.
Watch it.
Try it.
Report back.
Off you go.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
So what do you think? Do you agree? Does it work?
Or do you have a better way?
Tell us!
To find out more about garlic – myth and fact – visit my favorite pages of research.
Now don’t forget to head on over to the main post (here) to see what I’m bletherin’ on about this week. And check out what we’re talkin’ bout down at the pub (here) too!


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