Sunday, April 19, 2009

Quick Links: It's Garlic Day!

Rather odd to be announcing Garlic Day today, I mean really, isn't everyday Garlic Day? It shouldn't come as a surprise that a day should be set aside to celebrate garlic. There's just so much to be thankful for.

I was going to share a few tidbits from a book titled The Healing Benefits of Garlic (1994) today by noted author and medical anthropologist, John Heinerman but while I was searching for companion link resources online, I came across a website called Garlic Central. It appears to me, as one of the most comprehensive websites dedicated to all things garlic. At first, I found this rather surprising. Garlic is literally spread all over the internet in one form or another however, in order to really get to the bottom of the oh so many benefits of garlic you have to bypass most commercial sites, and pages and pages of garlic recipes. Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against recipes especially when garlic is an added ingredient but, I was dead set on finding garlic topics where the "stinking herb" was the main ingredient. Easier said then done. So, what I decided to do, is just post a couple of Quick Links. It's a beautiful day in the Hamptons today and the post I've planned for today is getting much too long. I'd rather be outside! As I am sure you would too!!!

When Garlic Was First Used:

Heinerman states that the earliest reference to the medicinal use of garlic was in Sumeria at the time of King Nimrod, some 2300 B.C.

The Sumerians grew barley, chickpeas, lentils, millet, wheat, turnips, dates, onions, garlic, lettuce, leeks and mustard. They also farmed cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs. They used oxen as their primary beasts of burden and donkeys as their primary transport animal. Sumerians hunted fish and fowl.

He offers six uses for garlic employed in [King] Nimrod's time. Here are two:
1. As a liniment for strained muscles or pulled ligaments. Some unspecified kind of animal grease were used to gently simmer garlic cloves and eucalyptus leaves. After the material had been allowed to cool and set up, it was rubbed on the body to eradicate stiffness and soreness.
2. As a tincture for intestinal parasites and a liniment substitute, Garlic was soaked in beer from one full moon to the next and regular swigs of it were guzzled down to get rid of worms or else rubbed on the skin for common aches and pains. (For centuries, the Amish have used garlic cloves to treat intestinal worms for themselves and their animals.)

Health Benefits of Garlic

Enduring Desert Agonies with Garlic: The first introduction we get to the benefits of garlic begin in the ancient Near East. Thankfully, the story is offered in Better Nutrition New insights into garlic's vascular-disease-prevention abilities.

A French vice-consul, Ernest de Sarzec, was staying at the Iraqi port of Basra. One morning, Sarzec woke from his cot, absentmindedly slipping into his shoes. A previously sleeping scorpion "let him know in no uncertain terms exactly how it felt about having its sleep so rudely interrupted by a human foot. One of the Bedouin servants hired by Sarzec recommended an old desert remedy for the poor Frenchman's swollen foot."
After a garlic/saliva poultice was made, and applied to the vice-consul's foot, the mixture went about its work neutralizing "the deadly effects of this arachnid's venom."
1. The Medicinal Use of Garlic in History
2. Health Benefits and Uses (Garlic Central)
3. Health Benefits of Aged Garlic Extract
4. The Goodness of Garlic (includes herbal recipes)

Beer, Bread, & Garlic, Sumerian Style

I find this section of the book most intriguing. I only wish I could have found a better recipe for garlic beer online. I'll have to work on that. In the meantime, here are few links that I did find. Below is an excerpt from an excellent article published at the Beer Advocate:

Every work dealing with the history of beer, it seems, starts out talking blithely about the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia as the first brewers, the inventors of beer, some eight to ten thousand years ago. However, what is usually lacking from of the published histories of beer is a meaningful treatise of the most obvious question: Why in Mesopotamia? Why at that point in time? And what, if anything, does it mean for us today? Indeed, the Sumerians were probably the first beer-makers. At the very least, they were the very first beer-makers of consequence. But “knowing” and “understanding” events, historical or present-day, are often two different things...and there is (in my view) much, much more to the story of the invention of beer than the bare facts!
1. The Sumerian Project
2. Beer Advocate Article
3. Debbie’s Garlic Beer
4. Garlic Beer
5. Garlic Beer Marinade

Recipe Links

"A faithful friend for almost any type of seasoning." 
James Beard, The Fireside Cookbook (1949)

To this day, one of my favorite garlic recipes is Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic. I plan on sharing a book titled Epicurean Delight "The Life and Times of James Beard" in May for a tribute to James Beard on the day of his birth, May 5th. I did find the recipe for Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic @ Leite's Culinaria. Another favorite garlic recipe of mine, also published by James Beard is James Beard's Garlic Soup or Marseille Garlic Soup. I was lucky to find the recipe at Julie's Kitchenography. A site I recently rediscovered and bookmarked for future visits. I must also mention the French Garlic Soup @ fxcuisine. Just looking at François-Xavier's roasted garlic nearly sent me over the edge. Amazing!!! Finally, my all time favorite recipe featuring garlic is absolutely Aglio Olio served over linguine! You must make tons of this dish because, dear visitors, this recipe is the classic example of a meal that tastes good the night you serve it, however, it is awesome as leftovers! Spaghetti with Garlic and Oil was the very first meal I gave to both my grand children as soon as they could get their tiny mouths filled with pasta. (Of course, I chopped it up for them and fed them with spoons) Now, they slurp up the pasta just like kids should. I always grate Locatelli cheese on my Aglio Oilio, tons!

1 lb. thin spaghetti
3 ounces extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves fresh garlic sliced (I don't use a garlic press, some do)
salt & pepper to taste
3 anchovies (optional)
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (a couple of handfuls)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. As the pasta is cooking, gently heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan and add the garlic to the heated oil and saute until lightly browned. If you are adding the anchovies, you can add them at this time. I usually add a handful of parsley at this time saving the rest for the top along with the crushed red pepper. When the spaghetti is done, drain it and add it slowly to the oil mixture. There are a few variations to this method. Some choose to strain the pasta lightly so that some of the liquid from the spaghetti is added to the oil. I don't do it this way. I like it garlic and oil style! Be careful when adding the pasta to the hot oil. Top it with the remainder of parsley, crushed red pepper, and the your favorite Italian grating cheese. Mine is Locatelli however, Parmigiano Reggiano works GREAT too! 

A few of the blogs I visit on a fairly regular basis have some amazing garlic recipes. I was introduced to black garlic at Coco Cooks. I had never heard of black garlic until I saw Courtney's recipe for Goat Cheese, Black Garlic, and Honey Tarts. Another reason I am attracted to her recipe is because, it seems so simple and it's fairly inexpensive. I plan on trying it real soon:) Another recipe I would like to soon try comes from Taste Buddies. I ran across the recipe for Lebanese Chicken, Garlic Sauce and Tabouleh and just knew it would have to be a meal I would make soon. I adore Lebanese dishes:) Tzatziki (Greek yogurt garlic sauce) is another of my old time favorites. I'm going to try Sam's mother-in-laws zucchini fritters, sauce and all as soon as this year's crop of zucchini is ready for picking. Take a look at them over @ Greek Food Recipes & Reflections. I mean really, how can you resist? Skordalia, is a classic Greek garlic spread. Laurie over @ Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska has a tempting recipe for Spinach Skordalia & Crispy Salmon Fingers that I'm actually considering making tomorrow. We'll see. I may just eat out at one of my favorite Turkish restaurants.

More Garlic Recipe Links

1. Avocado Bisque
2. Garlic Lime Soup
3. Barack Obama Pizza Burger

Enjoy Garlic Day!!!