🧄 MetaGarlic November 21, 2019 11:16 AM   Subscribe

We're close to the end of the week, let's talk about something other than politics. Let's talk about garlic.
“Garlic is divine. Few food items can taste so many distinct ways, handled correctly. Misuse of garlic is a crime...Please, treat your garlic with respect...Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic.” ― Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
Love it? Hate it? Any garlic-related stories or adventures? Do you grow it at home yourself? Do you have any special recipes that are garlic-specific? Feel free to share them here with us. Is there a particular varietal that you seek out? Did you know that Les Blank made a documentary all about garlic - 'Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers (1980)'. Here is the trailer. Let's talk about all things related to garlic. Remember to be kind to yourself and others. Cheers.
posted by Fizz to MetaFilter-Related at 11:16 AM (101 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

I know garlic and can confirm he is just the best.
posted by phunniemee at 11:23 AM on November 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

I don't understand why people think garlic breath is a turnoff. In my experience, garlic smells just about the same way on someone's breath as it does on its own, and garlic on its own smells great. If anything, kissing someone with garlic breath is an enhanced experience.
posted by invitapriore at 11:49 AM on November 21, 2019 [13 favorites]

Also, my life in the kitchen has been much improved since I decided to ditch the garlic press and just mince the stuff by hand. I hated cleaning the press, I hated the diaphanous garlic sheet it inevitably left behind in the chamber, I hated scraping the outside to get the stuck bits off since they'd inevitably just stick to the knife instead, and it's really just not much more work for me to cut it myself. I don't think there's anything wrong with or lesser about using one, but it stressed me the fuck out and I'm glad it's gone.
posted by invitapriore at 11:54 AM on November 21, 2019 [8 favorites]

I love you, Anthony Bourdain, but that's ableist as hell, those of us with few spoons deserve to eat garlic, too.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:57 AM on November 21, 2019 [26 favorites]

One of my close friends' brother is a French-trained chef who has cooked in some of the best restaurants in the US, and one of our main disagreements has been about garlic, which he uses extremely sparingly and calls a "peasant spice."

I learned to cook more in the Provençal and Italian style, and favor other cuisines that use a lot if it, and I think he's totally insane. I haven't spoken to him in ages, but the conversation is still fresh in my mind. How can someone so talented with so much training such a good palate get this so wrong? Maybe he's actually an alien or a vampire.

Just today I noticed that in Lynn Rosetto Kasper and Sally Swift's How to Cook Supper, which is a compilation of notes and recipes from many well known chefs, Swift says:

...years ago I discovered I really wasn't comfortable smashing garlic cloves with the side of a chefs knife. I worried about that sharp edge. So I found a rock. It fits snugly in the palm of my hand, it's easy to grasp, and it has a nice flat side that crushes my garlic to smithereens. I simply throw it in the dishwasher and I always get a comment from the galley crew about "Where does the rock go?"

I tend to just use the heel of my hand for the same reason (and because I've seen a particularly stubborn/old clove put a fold into the blade of a delicate chefs knife, probably from glancing off onto tile) but I think I'll be looking for a rock.

(Any tips on dishwasher friendly rocks?)

For those with physical issues peeling, I have this slightly tacky rubber tube gizmo that you roll the garlic in and it gets the skin to slough off. It takes too long vs. fingers for me to use regularly unless I need to process a ton and can pack em in there, but it works.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:06 PM on November 21, 2019 [13 favorites]

the rubber tube gizmo is amazing!!! (so is garlic!)
posted by supermedusa at 12:12 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

You can grow a lot of garlic in a small space so it's very rewarding. Around here in southern New England I plant it in October after space is cleared and harvest about the end of July in time to replant with bush beans or greens. It is a hard neck type, usually extras from the CSA or saved from the year before. There are generally four large cloves around the hard stem. Separate them and plant on a six inch grid, two inches deep with the root end down. Mulch well but be sure to pull off the mulch early so it doesn't sprout and get blanched. Remove the scapes or not, I don't think it makes that much difference. Pull when half the leaves are brown and shriveled and cure in a dry breezy place until the stems are dry, then trim and store. Do watch out for diseased cloves and keep them far away from the garden.
posted by Botanizer at 12:15 PM on November 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

Could planting it in a strawberry pot work? just for fun, really.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:15 PM on November 21, 2019

I just buy a gallon of minced garlic from Costco, separate it out into Tupperware, and then freeze it, because who has the patience to deal with garlic?

Counterpoint: Whole heads of garlic, aged in white wine vinegar for so many years they turn black, spread on crackers.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 12:17 PM on November 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

I just use a microplane to mince garlic without smashing it. People always tell me I'm going to grate my fingers but it hasn't happened yet.

I like a good garlic bulb but it's no leek.
posted by selfnoise at 12:17 PM on November 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

I feel safe in saying that garlic is a fundamental part of my marriage. A lot of it goes into our meals at home; as well, on days when schedules require me and my husband to eat separately, I usually make myself an aglio (e aglio e aglio) e olio pasta, and apologize "I'm all garlicky, sorry..." when he comes home, to which his response is most often "Oh good, I ate at the garlic ramen place."
I also like garlic scapes (is that what the long thin green things are?), but only know one really delicious way to cook them, along with semi-dry-fried string beans, diced pork and soy sauce. Any other recommendations?
posted by huimangm at 12:24 PM on November 21, 2019 [8 favorites]

I just buy...minced garlic

I keep trying but I've yet to find a brand that doesn't taste noticeably old. Which I presume means oxidized (it's always at least a slightly darker yellow than a freshly minced clove).

I still use it, just selectively, when it's in concert with a lot of other flavors and/or going to be cooked for a long time.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:24 PM on November 21, 2019

I used so much garlic yesterday in the lentils I made and it was so good. And I am so safe from vampires.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:28 PM on November 21, 2019 [12 favorites]

Could planting it in a strawberry pot work? just for fun, really.
It probably would not winter over around here but if you are still in southern California it could be successful. I'd try to find some local-to-you instructions for container growing. And keep it well watered.
posted by Botanizer at 12:31 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best mashed potatoes have a whole head of roasted garlic mashed in. And I'm with huimangm on making aglio e olio as my preferred single for the night dinner. (Autocorrect, no, no one wants to eat aglio e polio, c'mon.)

I know not everyone can tolerate garlic, so I try to keep the double-triple-quadruple garlic dishes for personal enjoyment, but it does provide a lot of personal enjoyment.
posted by the primroses were over at 12:37 PM on November 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

I also like garlic scapes (is that what the long thin green things are?), but only know one really delicious way to cook them, along with semi-dry-fried string beans, diced pork and soy sauce. Any other recommendations?

Just roast the heck out of them.
posted by zamboni at 12:41 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

(The other similarly divisive thing I buy minced as well as whole is ginger.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:46 PM on November 21, 2019

100 clove garlic soup.

I will be back with far deeper ruminations on garlic. I have spent far too much time loving garlic to just give it a shallow comment.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 12:52 PM on November 21, 2019 [9 favorites]

(The other similarly divisive thing I buy minced as well as whole is ginger.)

Minced ginger is super convenient to use. That being said, a good way to test if fresh ginger is good is to break it apart, if it snaps cleanly then you have a good piece of ginger, if it tears and there are a lot of strings, it's not so good.
posted by Fizz at 12:54 PM on November 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

One of the happy things my ex and I agreed on was that too much garlic was a good start.
posted by bryon at 1:12 PM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

I was introduced to black garlic by, of all things, Bob's Burgers. It is wonderful stuff. Highly recommended.
posted by Splunge at 1:14 PM on November 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

I also like garlic scapes (is that what the long thin green things are?), but only know one really delicious way to cook them, along with semi-dry-fried string beans, diced pork and soy sauce. Any other recommendations?

They make a very nice pesto!
posted by cheapskatebay at 1:18 PM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

The yearly Northern California Renaissance Festival is held in Hollister, CA, about 15 minutes east of Gilroy. Gilroy, CA, is known for its garlic crop and its yearly garlic festival (sadly, 2019's garlic festival was interrupted by a mass shooting). Literally the ENTIRE TOWN smells like garlic. It's one of the landmarks for me driving to the Ren Faire every week during the season, and makes me happy.

When I was still dating the woman who became the first mrs. hanov3r, I was invited by the family to spend the night at their house, sleeping in her little brother's room. That day, for lunch, I'd had an entire white pizza from the Italian place next to the bookstore where I worked and, apparently, I sweated garlic all night. I'm told they couldn't get the odor out of the sheets.
posted by hanov3r at 1:37 PM on November 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

My standard method for garlic bread is to first make a compound butter. Soften some butter, grate in some fresh garlic, maybe salt (if the butter was unsalted). Sometimes herbs. Last time I made it, I got the idea to also mash in some white miso paste. It was SO good!

For mashing cloves - a bench scraper is a good option for that. If you don't have one, you really should, they're super useful.
posted by dnash at 2:00 PM on November 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

I would think the ideal dishwasher-safe garlic-smashing rock would be one of those stainless steel bars you use to wash garlic stink off your hands. Might not even really need to go in the dishwasher, just wash it at the sink.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:07 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Garlic aioli (homemade mayo + garlic)

4-8 garlic cloves (depending on personal preference, but aim high!!)
1 large egg
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
juice of one lemon, ~1 Tbsp
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 to 1 C olive oil
3-4 drops Liquid Smoke (optional)

Prep time: 5-10 minutes

This can probably be done in a food processor, but I find using a stick/immersion blender in a tall container gives a luscious creamy dense result. I blend it in a quart-size plastic food storage container with a screw top, which then goes straight into the fridge without having to do any messy transferring to another container.

Peel and roughly chop the garlic, then thoroughly pulverize it in a food processor. Combine garlic, egg, mustard, lemon juice, and salt (and optional Liquid Smoke) in a tall container and blend well with the stick blender, then while continuing to blend start adding the oil in a thin steady stream until the mixture is the desired thickness (I usually end up using most of a cup of oil).

Move to a storage container (if necessary) and refrigerate for at least 1 hour - overnight is better because the flavors meld. I think the slight flavor and whiff of smoke adds depth to the sauce, but to each their own and it's yummy either way.

Use with: About anything you dang well want really, it's hard to go wrong with this amazing stuff. But here's a few specific examples:

Chip or veggie dip
Any roasted meat
Pan-fried polenta
Roasted asparagus
Almost any veggie
Tomato sandwich

posted by Greg_Ace at 2:13 PM on November 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

I would think the ideal dishwasher-safe garlic-smashing rock would be one of those stainless steel bars you use to wash garlic stink off your hands. Might not even really need to go in the dishwasher, just wash it at the sink.

Oh lord, the "Nonion." One of my Mom's favorite kitchen stories is when I told her the thing was totally useless because I set it out on the chopping block while chopping onions and teared up anyway, as though I was expecting to work by sympathetic magic or like some kind of fanless Ionic Breeze.

I'm not actually sure how well it would work for this, though — I think it was hollow and wrapped around plastic endcaps.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:22 PM on November 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

Hell yeah black garlic!!! I eat the stuff like candy and can go through at least half a bulb at a go. I've tried making it myself at home since it's so expensive, but haven't quite gotten the technique down yet.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:27 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I knew someone who was allergic to garlic but he would still eat it sometimes and just suffer through. I think I would too, if I had to! I found that my husband doesn't like a whole clove in his food. I mean, he will eat things with tons of garlic in them, but he wants the garlic itself minced up. I will throw cloves in with a baked dish and then just eat them whole, yum! I tried to grow it one year and only got some greens that were good, but not really worth wasting all those cloves.
posted by soelo at 2:44 PM on November 21, 2019

Greg_ace, aioli is one of my favorite things in the world, but I've never tried putting a bit of liquid smoke it in it--I'll have to give that a shot! Long ago, the (now-long-defunct) New French Cafe in Minneapolis used to hold an annual Bastille Day street fair, Le Grand Aioli, featuring lots of garlic-rich foods, and quantities of beer, and French-cafe-type music, and dancing. It generally coincided with the kind of suffocatingly humid sticky weather you get in mid-July in Minnesota, and I well recall the almost tangible miasma, or aura almost, of essence-of-garlic hanging in the heavy summer air. Gone almost twenty years now and I still miss it.
posted by Kat Allison at 2:59 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've never tried putting a bit of liquid smoke in [aioli]

TBH I spend way too much time pondering what food I can add smoke flavor to, using either the Liquid Smoke "cheat" or my smoker grill.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:08 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I used to grow garlic. In the rocky but loamy soil I had as a result of living at the base of a ripple in the foothills of Appalachia. And almost every variety I grew there loved it. It was one of the easiest plants I cultivated in those gardens. And I'm a weird gardener. I thought I'd live in that valley for the rest of my life, so I would let a few varieties in my gardens have a few plants fertilize and go to seed, and then I'd let the volunteers that would show up the following year also go to seed and I'd collect those, and that would be my new stock for the following year. I tried to create my own heirlooms for my specific garden and clime. Obviously this didn't work for every variety, but for some species, like garlic, they were well suited for it.

And frankly, I know this is heretical but I love volunteers in the garden. I always try to accommodate them. I had always been an organic gardener who used his own compost with the occasional addition of my Amish neighbor's horse shit, so volunteers could come from last year's plants that went to seed, or the compost. I eventually got really good at identifying baby plants. I remember seeing a clove that I threw into the compost sprout from the top of the pile one spring when I went out to turn it. Being the sucker for a sapling that I am, I found a home for that sprout in the garden and moved it there. And I harvested its cloves the following autumn.

When I saw that I realized I could take any variety I bought and could break up the cloves and put it into my garden. Points up, inch or so down. Shit. I tried everything. Did the same thing with potatoes, though you're not supposed to by law. I didn't care. Fuck the law. Did the same thing with poppies. I love poppy seeds, but at the time, the law seemed to be interpreted as if I knew I could score the pods and make opium, I wasn't allowed to grow real poppies—poppy seed poppies—but if I was ignorant of that fact then it was fine if I grew them. So, of course, I grew them and they soon spread across my property as volunteers. They were lovely. So were the kolaches, cakes, and rolls they produced. I suppose I considered myself a rebel gardener. My gardening friends certainly thought I was odd.

The garlic that I loved the most was this purple striped elephant garlic a friend gave me, though once I started cultivating that variety myself, through both seeds and clove planting, and it acclimated to that locality, it started getting smaller. Though it was really prolific, my own domesticated version. I almost always had more than I could use. Used to give away braids for the holidays. I could tell it loved living there. And I loved it on almost everything but especially as a spread of roasted garlic on sourdough toast. It was hearty but not strong, rich without all that power. I miss that garlic since I moved to a city. I sometimes wonder if it escaped from the land of the people who bought the place maybe and is living wild in a nearby ravine. I like to think so anyway, hopefully, next to a patch of purple poppies.
posted by Stanczyk at 3:31 PM on November 21, 2019 [26 favorites]

I like garlic well enough, but do I ever love black garlic. My first encounter was in the form of black garlic aioli with fries in Iceland, and it was DIVINE. I recently picked up a bottle of black garlic hot sauce and I'm going through it way too quickly.
posted by noneuclidean at 3:53 PM on November 21, 2019

At my last job, my manager’s family owned an organic garlic farm. But that manager was kind of a douche and we parted on bad terms, so that’s kind of ruined garlic as agri-entertainment for me. I still eat it, I’m not crazy, just not as gaga for it as I used to be.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:29 PM on November 21, 2019

The Bourdain quote reminded me of how I used to love to cook & would always insist on prepping my own garlic, but then I developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & there are days when just having energy to put food in my mouth is amazing, so...
posted by hgws at 4:41 PM on November 21, 2019 [8 favorites]

I am very comfortable smashing garlic by placing it under the flat of a large chef’s knife, then whacking the other side with my fist. I’m usually very cautious/high-anxiety about potentially hurting myself, but I have zero concerns about this, for some reason. And it makes the peels so easy to take off.

I have tried the trick where you shake garlic in two metal bowls, one bowl acting as lid for the other, and the peels are supposed to come off while you shake. It did not work and was very strenuous.

As for black garlic: I first tried it in a beer (!) from Bhramari Brewing Co. in Asheville, NC. They aren’t still making it, sadly. It was called Ajo Negro and was a black garlic porter. It was so weird and so good.
posted by snowmentality at 4:46 PM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

This recipe from a years-ago Meta is fucking delicious: HOW ABOUT SOME SUPER QUICK AWESOME GARLIC SPINACH SOBA NOODLES
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:46 PM on November 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

I am a baby tier cook, but the coolest kitchen trick I know is that you can make minced garlic into paste just by adding a little salt to it and scraping it over the cutting board with your knife.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 4:47 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I read somewhere that the garlic you can get at the store is a variety that is preferred in the supply chain because it stores better and maybe also grows faster. This is the variety with the numerous, tiny pieces instead of the smaller number of larger pieces that is sort of the platonic garlic I never get anymore. I ordered some bulbs of the inefficient garlic and couldn't grow any of it. It's one of the few things I have totally failed to grow here, likely due to the climate. I guess I will have to suffer with small garlic.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:57 PM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Garlic story. We used to have an annual open house for the arts with a potluck dinner back in grad school and after. One year, the amazingly talented textile/clothing designer was bringing hummus -- awesome! But during the drive to our house, the aluminum foil she'd put over the bowl of hummus was almost completely eroded away. See through. Turned out she'd made the hummus while having a phone argument with her mother, and due to distraction and frustration, put five heads of garlic into the mash rather than the five cloves the recipe asked for.

Our fridge, kitchen and I swear the house smelled like garlic for two months. Love garlic, but that hummus was a toxic, inedible level of garlic.

Wish I had a punch line.
posted by vers at 5:08 PM on November 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

Several decades ago, there was a restaurant in Cincinnati that made a French garlic soup that was exceptional. Roasted garlic with olive oil on pasta or bread. The jarred minced garlic is only okay, but better than no garlic. When I was a youth, garlic was a bit exotic I love that it's now a standard kitchen item.
posted by theora55 at 5:13 PM on November 21, 2019

Two Minute Toum. I was so shocked when I got to California and found out that the "would fly across the country for" garlic sauce at legendary Zankou Chicken was...toum. You can get it or something very like it at pretty much any Middle Eastern restaurant, and their chicken is probably way better too.

And now that avocado oil is so easy to get, you don't have to run the risk of making your toum so olivey you lose the real punch of the garlic.

I do use jarlic sometimes, and I also buy bagged peeled cloves (only Aldi's, though, everyone else's suck), but I usually have some supply of actual heads in the fridge for when I really want it to count.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:26 PM on November 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

Oh how I love garlic. I plant lots and lots of Siberian and Spanish Roja garlic in my garden between October and December, and it lasts a good portion of the year after harvest. I grill the scapes, put them in eggs, pickle them with lavender and coriander, and whatever else I can think of to do, and if I miss one and it goes to a seedhead of tiny cloves, they go into sauces whole. Sometimes I mince the leaves and use them in salad dressing or just toss them in a salad. I was briefly in love with someone who was allergic to garlic and should have known right away that it couldn’t happen with us.
posted by centrifugal at 5:38 PM on November 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

I love it. Potatoes roasted in too much minced garlic, too much lemon juice, and too much salt—it’s heaven.

If anything, kissing someone with garlic breath is an enhanced experience.

Amen! And there is nothing more comforting on a winter night than walking into a warm house that smells like garlic—someone is cooking, for me.
posted by sallybrown at 5:56 PM on November 21, 2019 [10 favorites]

I love it. Potatoes roasted in too much minced garlic, too much lemon juice, and too much salt—it’s heaven.

Not that I'm even close to that level in the first place, but one reason I think I could never be a chef de cuisine because I love salt and my ideal level of seasoning in almost every savory circumstance is when you can actively taste saltiness. That's true of garlic, too, and other strong flavors. I regret nothing.
posted by invitapriore at 6:04 PM on November 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

An old friend used to say his rule of thumb for garlic quantities in recipes was “add 1, multiply by 2, and change cloves to heads.”
posted by eirias at 6:25 PM on November 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

I went to dinner at the Stinking Rose with my husband (the boyfriend) mid-conference in San Francisco. We had garlic everything, even garlic ice cream! The next day during one of the presentations, someone leaned over to tell me that I smelled very strongly of garlic. That was very embarrassing!
posted by gryphonlover at 6:28 PM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

someone leaned over to tell me that I smelled very strongly of garlic

“You’re welcome”
posted by sallybrown at 6:32 PM on November 21, 2019 [12 favorites]

Every year around my birthday I give myself permission to make the stinkiest snack: homemade tostones with raw garlic. So I make the tostones how you normally do - very double fried, very delicious, and salted immediately out of the oil. And then because I've never had a sauce with tostones that was garlicky enough, I just smash up like a whole head of raw garlic with salt and a little very good olive oil. I squeeze a little lime onto the tostones, pile the garlic on top and eat all of them. All of them!!! All for meeeeee

I exude garlic from my whole being for about a week afterwards and it's great.
posted by Mizu at 7:10 PM on November 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm a fan but it can be a real nightmare in my guts. Possibly I'm a vampire.
posted by rodlymight at 7:11 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I cooked Brøderne Price's chicken with 50 cloves of garlic (link in Danish) with friends a couple of times, and each time it has been utterly divine. We never stuck to 50 cloves - we just didn't count the small ones at all. Across three or four full heads of garlic, that adds up. Nothing quite as delicious as schmaltzy, nutty-brown garlic that squeezes out of the skin and spreads like butter on toasted bread. The chicken turns out tender and juicy and all that as well, but the garlic is the real star of the show.
posted by Dysk at 7:31 PM on November 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

I love garlic, and always increase the amount called for in any new recipe, especially if it's just for the two of us. Couldn't really think of any interesting stories about garlic, and then remembered somebody I used to work with, many years ago. He would periodically make himself loaves of garlic bread using ridiculous amounts of garlic. Like, multiple heads of garlic per loaf. He was banned from reheating it in the break room, but that was only a minor improvement. Dude would just exude garlic for days after making a batch. He was a walking garlic smog bank. Another employee at the same company had a similar issue, only with alcohol. His sweat was so highly flammable, his shirts would catch fire on a sunny day. Much preferred the second-hand garlic defuser.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:52 PM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm a fan but it can be a real nightmare in my guts. Possibly I'm a vampire.

Or maybe a vampire has invaded your gut!
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:58 PM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

My husband hates garlic. Fortunately he has lots of other redeeming qualities. When he travels for work I make all kinds of garlicky stuff - I love making whole roasted garlic heads, squeeze out the cloves onto crusty bread with butter, yum.
posted by Daily Alice at 8:02 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I visited a garlic farm in August during the harvest and met with the owners as part of a California Specialty Crop tour. The garlic farmers impressed the hell out of me. Growing the crop could have ended in California due to a fungal disease that can contaminate the soil for decades. But when they realized it was a problem the farmers banded together, started putting aside money to research it, and ended up with a series of protocols to protect themselves and each other. It came too late for some fields, but there's a good crop rotation system now and they are determined to keep planting.

Whole thing is cool, and if you want to research garlic related disease there's some grants out there you should apply for!
posted by lepus at 8:16 PM on November 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

Many years ago, on a warm summer evening about 2000 feet above ground level, my flight instructor said, "close your eyes and tell me where we are."

Gilroy, where garlic was being harvested.
posted by dws at 8:25 PM on November 21, 2019 [13 favorites]

Gilroy, where garlic was being harvested.

That’s my favorite Star Trek episode too
posted by invitapriore at 8:54 PM on November 21, 2019 [20 favorites]

Mr Nat and I are getting married next year. We had two venues to choose from -- one was a science museum with a model whale you can climb on out front, and the other is a small town whose name means garlic. When deciding, we referred to them as "the one with the whales" (you know, Star Trek IV), vs "needs more garlic" (Mr Nat has this shirt, which he has worn so often it is more holes than shirt).

We're getting married at "needs more garlic".
posted by nat at 11:48 PM on November 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

Toum is the best! I love garlic like Brad Leone loves garlic (IWDFCFBATK).
posted by ellieBOA at 12:51 AM on November 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Once or twice a year, Mrs. Example and I will get a craving and roast up an absolute ton of garlic and eat it on flatbread or crackers with some Brie and prosciutto. It is amazing, although we generally have to stop once our own breath starts feeling like it's going to induce chemical burns in our eyes.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:21 AM on November 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Greg_Ace: Garlic aioli (homemade mayo + garlic)

Oh, there's garlic in this aioli? Can I get that with a side of au jus? /pedant
posted by emelenjr at 2:53 AM on November 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

I buy minced garlic in big jars because I have a 3 year old child and time is a valuable commodity, sue me.

Anyway I love garlic but there is ONE (1) setting where I've recoiled at the overwhelming odor: Mariners games in Seattle. Local burger chain Kidd Valley makes garlic fries that are coated in minced garlic and that shit just smells rancid as hell. If someone's eating garlic fries in the next section over you can smell that shit. BAD
posted by sugar and confetti at 4:17 AM on November 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

I puzzled for years over the recurring, weirdly-localized skin irritation on the tips of my left thumb, index and middle fingers until at last I realized I had allergic contact dermatitis at the spots where I'd held garlic cloves while chopping them. I realized too that garlic allergy or sensitivity would also account for some of the digestive discomfort I'd been experiencing. Alas: I loved it well but now avoid it, and this thread is like an enticingly pungent aroma emanating from a bustling restaurant I can no longer patronize.
posted by misteraitch at 4:59 AM on November 22, 2019 [5 favorites]

One day I hope to be as efficient as Martin Yan prepping garlic.

I like to pop a garlic bulb on the windowsill in a little water, the leaves grow rapidly and they make a nice subtle garlic garnish for things like scrambled eggs or noodles.
posted by lucidium at 6:31 AM on November 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

Reading the wiki page for Garlic and found this:
Garlic production, 2016
Country Production (tonnes)
China 21,197,131
India 1,400,000
Bangladesh 381,851
European Union 302,074
Egypt 280,216
South Korea 275,549
Russia 262,211
World 26,573,001
*May include official, semi-official or estimated data. Source: UN Food and Agriculture Organization
I didn't know that my birthplace of India was second in the world of garlic production. But it makes sense, a lot of agricultural industry and the climate seems right for it.
posted by Fizz at 6:32 AM on November 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

My bonkers dog has somehow landed on the crinkling sound of garlic paper peel as something to trigger an insane barking fit.

Not unrelated to my first point, after a lifetime of eschewing garlic powder as an ersatz product beneath my culinary standards, I have discovered that Penzey's garlic powder is actually quite good on its own merits, not as a substitute for fresh. Kind of like how carob can be enjoyable if you're not expecting it to be chocolate.
posted by HotToddy at 6:45 AM on November 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

re: garlic as a peasant spice

Verlaine mentions garlic derisively in several poems. In a French poetry class I took, we were asked to explain what he meant when he compared something to garlic. I was the only person who ever raised my hand in this class, and I said, "he means this thing is good??" Wrong answer. According to the professor he meant "it's a cheap attempt to add flavor." I was so aggrieved I almost cried right there in class.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:49 AM on November 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

The presumption was that Verlaine's contemporaries would have understood garlic to be a peasant spice.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:50 AM on November 22, 2019

A couple years ago, my CSA had an unusual offering at the weekly distribution; some kind of braising green leafy thing that I don't remember what it is. I overheard a conversation: one of the people there to pick up her share was staring at this vegetable curiously, and meekly asked the volunteers "so, how do you...cook this?"

The volunteer was similarly baffled. But another woman in line just leaned in and said "Listen, when in doubt with a vegetable, just do what I do - saute it with olive oil and garlic. That always works."

I quietly made a mental note of what she said and can verify through experience that that woman was right.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:43 AM on November 22, 2019 [5 favorites]

I don't know where to begin
posted by Mrs Potato at 8:28 AM on November 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

I unreservedly love garlic.

Something I have a strong opinion about is open-faced garlic bread. Too dry in most cases, I find.

My method for super-moist-sopping-with-butter-but-still-crispy-on-the-bottom garlic bread, inherited from how my mom always made it:

1. Slice a baguette into 1-inch thick slices.

2. Crush lots and lots and lots and lots of garlic into some room-temperature butter - a garlic press is perfect for the task, but you can also use a microplane (it's a bit more time consuming). The key is having the garlic finely crushed -- you don't want chunks. Think you've put in enough garlic? Nah. Put in some more, then thoroughly mix it into the butter.

3. Butter each baguette slice VERY generously on both sides. Get in there. Butter those slices. Yeah.

4. On a generous piece of foil, reassemble the now-buttered slices of the baguette into its original form, Voltron style.

5. Wrap it up in the foil.

6. Bake it in a ~375 degree oven on a sheet pan (in case the foil tears in spots) for 30 or so minutes

Done-ness is achieved when the bottom side of the baguette has gone golden brown and crispy. The middle of the bread should remain soft, now sopping with melted-garlic-butter goodness.

Et voilĂ .

If butter is a no-go, you can replace it with olive oil -- just make sure the bread is well-saturated with the oil-garlic mixture by dunking each slice in it before reassembling the bread.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:41 AM on November 22, 2019 [11 favorites]

mandolin conspiracy, that's almost exactly the same way i learned to make garlic bread, except I was taught to, when slicing the baguette, leave the bottom crust intact and sort of lean the pieces apart to butter. Then you get the satisfaction of tearing off chunks when it's serving time.
posted by hanov3r at 10:47 AM on November 22, 2019 [10 favorites]

Interestingly, in the early-ish Nero Wolfe novels, say the 1930s-1940s ones, the narrator Archie, who actually has a palate thanks to eating the cooking of Wolfe's accomplished personal chef, although he will also eat mass-produced food Wolfe and Fritz wouldn't touch, is snobby about garlic as a hallmark of poor immigrants' food, and thus the smell of garlic being a characteristic of tenements. It's fascinating--there's a whole novel that turns on great chefs' being able to identify one missing spice or herb out of like 14 in a sauce for squab, and garlic has no role!

I would drape myself in garlic if it was socially acceptable.
posted by praemunire at 11:03 AM on November 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Good Taste by Isaac Asimov
posted by Mrs Potato at 11:06 AM on November 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh, there's garlic in this aioli? Can I get that with a side of au jus? /pedant

Prescriptivists please note that "aioli" no longer refers to just garlic mayo, or garlic alone mashed into olive oil, or even something including garlic at all. Learn to live with changing usage, since it's gonna happen whether we like it or not.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:37 AM on November 22, 2019 [7 favorites]

I just remembered that the Sawbones podcast had a recent episode on...

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:41 PM on November 22, 2019

Et voilĂ .
posted by mandolin conspiracy

Thank you. Thank you so very much, for not spelling this walla.
posted by Splunge at 1:00 PM on November 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

A perfectly-timed post. I'm not averse to garlic in a meal. But one of my colleagues this week saw fit to not only bring bolognese into the office and heat it in the microwave (fine, kinda smelly but manageable), but then to put garlic bread into the toaster, in the open kitchen in our open plan office.

The entire office absolutely reeked and all she could do was laugh. Every single person who entered the office in turn had asked "Jesus Christ, who's eating garlic?" as she giggled happily away to herself in the corner.

And as if that weren't bad enough, the next day, she did herself some regular toast mid-morning - and the entire office stank again, because she's obviously now saturated the toaster with garlic butter and we're going to be fucking plagued by the stuff indefinitely.

Some people don't deserve to have jobs.
posted by penguin pie at 1:12 PM on November 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Some people don't deserve to have jobs.

Totally agree, they should go be Jain monks in a monastery and be safe from the delicious smell of garlic bread forever.
posted by Dr. Curare at 5:15 PM on November 22, 2019 [10 favorites]

Let’s be honest, if someone in my workplace was repeatedly heating up garlic bread, I would be unable to work due to continual jealous crying.
posted by sallybrown at 5:45 PM on November 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

If it isn't cake, or pie, or toast with fruit butter, it gets garlic.
posted by Oyéah at 6:47 PM on November 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Seconding Serene Empress Dork - the magnificent SUPER QUICK AWESOME GARLIC SPINACH SOBA NOODLES, generously provided to us by Mefite Nothing... and like it, are indeed quick and awesome, and I was happy to have occasion to recommend them myself on a later thread. (I actually make mine with arugula, mostly, and I rarely think to put in the red pepper flakes or the lemon, although I do put in a lot of black pepper, but seriously, it's utterly delicious even with variations and I am so glad it came into my life.)

Also a big fan of garlic bread. mandolin conspiracy, I would like some of yours, please. (If you wouldn't mind making extra.)

(Is there such a thing as extra garlic bread?)
posted by kristi at 9:53 PM on November 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

Usually I dice it by hand, but when I want a fine paste for maximum garlic flavor, I use a ceramic Grate Plate (because I have done myself some damage with a Microplane). On the other hand, intrigued as I might be about those stainless steel "soap" bars, I will never own one, because why would I want my hands not to smell of delicious garlic?

I wish my local grocery stores were more forthcoming about the variety of garlic on offer, but it's invariably just labeled "organic garlic." About a month back, the heads I was bringing home were glorious affairs, with something like seven to ten fat, succulent cloves inside. Platonic ideals they were. The last few weeks' have been miserable—the same sized heads, seemingly plump and promising, but ultimately filled with a host of stingy little garlicky nail clippings. If they'd put a name to them I could learn which varieties to avoid, but it's like every week is garlic roulette and there's a monkey on my back promising me that this time we'll be winners.
posted by mumkin at 12:56 AM on November 23, 2019

I found garlic scapes exactly once in my life, at a farmer's market, and made pesto. It was heavenly and I don't remember what ingredients I used. If I were doing it today I'd use EVOO, pepitas and salt.

I used to work down the street from a little Lebanese lunch spot that sold wraps and bowls - I think. What I remember is the garlic sauce and how much time I spent trying to find a recipe. Now several versions pop up on the first search. I guess it's called toum, and Trader Joe's has it next to the hummus. You kids these days don't know how lucky you have it.
posted by bunderful at 6:57 AM on November 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

Also, those moments when you're wandering through a city and you're just starting to get hungry and suddenly out of nowhere you get a big whiff of garlic cooking.
posted by bunderful at 7:00 AM on November 23, 2019 [4 favorites]

And I'm with huimangm on making aglio e olio as my preferred single for the night dinner.

That's what I made myself last night (though with tuna added for extra stinkiness). It's perfect bachelor cooking, just involved enough that you feel like you are actually cooking (vs just eating a bowl of cereal) but fast, easy, and simple to make.

I don't understand why people think garlic breath is a turnoff. In my experience, garlic smells just about the same way on someone's breath as it does on its own, and garlic on its own smells great.

This is absolutely the case for me. I try to remember that lots of people do not feel this way, and I try to be careful about reheating super garlicy food at work, or eating lots of garlic right before being in close quarters with people. But I love garlic and we use a lot of it almost daily, so there are probably sensitive people who think I always smell like garlic.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:28 AM on November 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

I was very happy to find near the top of the thread a fellow traveller who feels that speeddicing garlic is less hassle in the long run than farting around with a press!

Despite the fact that I love garlic unreservedly I don't think I was really aware of black garlic before today?

Where do we stand on trimming out the green bit in the middle? I do it because I saw on TV years ago that its bitter but I have never really done a blind trial.

No one seems to have come out pro or anti steel odor killer thing. After I dice a bunch of garlic I run my chef knife under COLD water and run the flat of the blade over my hands and I am 100% convinced it greatly removes the odor on my hands.

For one wonderful summer in about 2002 in Kingston, Ontario there was a stall at the farmer's market that sold garlic fudge. I probably ate 5 pounds of it over that summer.

Where I live there is a big farmers market with abundant fall harvest sales and I have purchased garlic by the basket load and among other things tried to pickle it, with results that are never as great as I think they should be.
posted by hearthpig at 11:17 AM on November 23, 2019

Where do we stand on trimming out the green bit in the middle?

I stand on the "Life's too short" side.

Black garlic is interesting. It has none the raw bite left, just sweet savoriness. The best way I'm able to describe the flavor is that it's somewhere between molasses and balsamic vinegar, in a good way.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:52 AM on November 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

For any given recipe I double the amount of garlic given. Sometimes I add a squirt more garlic puree, just in case.

The Isle Of WIght has more garlic festivals and fewer armoured barrow-revenants than one might suspect from the name. A guy from work brought me back an unsolicited jar of garlic jam a couple of years back, went well with gammon!
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 1:00 PM on November 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

As an aside, one of my unpopular food opinions is that I don't care if people heat up fish or what have you at work, but I cannot abide by smelling other people's DELICIOUS smelling food. If I can smell fries or garlicky goodness, I cannot work.
posted by tofu_crouton at 4:00 PM on November 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

Garlic scapes: best things I've made with them have been really good pesto and the best scrambled eggs in the Universe (fry scapes quickly in butter before adding the egg/milk mixture; don't let them go brown. Salt and pepper, no other spices.)

I also tried adding them to a pasta sauce I was making, but I got too fancy and used too many ingredients; couldn't taste the scapes.

I think the thing about the eggs and the pesto is that there was plenty of fat to carry that delicious subtle flavour. I bet garlic scape aioli would be stunning.

Last year's garlic yielded scapes and beautiful bulbs; I'm late planting this year's and must do it soon. There's an old wives' tale that planting garlic near another plant will deter aphids. I don't know if it's true, but it can't hurt.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:18 PM on November 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

I frickin love garlic! I will use it in everything I can, but alas I don't have spoons for cooking often. My family loves using garlic too - we're Puerto Rican so it's in our blood. My grandma has a mortar and pestle (or pilĂłn) that she uses to crush the large quantities of garlic she uses for her food. It makes it into a satisfying paste you can use with a lot of stuff. I'm going to try crushing the garlic with the heel of my hand like someone mentioned earlier in the thread because the pilĂłn is too much work sometimes.
posted by starlybri at 6:21 PM on November 23, 2019

About 20 years ago my husband was walking home from University and caught the smell of someone cooking something savoury with a hefty amount of garlic involved - not an unusual circumstance as we lived in a highly multicultural section of town. As he got closer to home the smell intensified and he said he felt really hungry at the thought of whatever delicious dinner someone was getting that evening.

Until he got to our front door, opened it, and was flattened by the smell of whatever I was cooking. I cannot remember what I was cooking that night but Reader, he married me.

I'm pretty sure it wasn't our shared love of garlic that glued us together.
Fairly sure.
I think.

posted by ninazer0 at 8:23 PM on November 23, 2019 [9 favorites]

I also don't like the garlic press. I did just enough prep cooking to get the knack for processing a bunch of garlic at once with a knife, and far prefer that to gizmos and machines.

Not a big fan of pre-minced garlic unless it's in oil. Even then it is simply a different flavor than a good fresh clove. Fried garlic is awesome OTOH. You can usually buy the dried fried jar at your local SE Asian grocer.

One thing that really upped my sauce game is adding garlic at different stages in the cooking process, say a bunch at the front, a little halfway through, and a little more a minute or so before serving.
posted by aspersioncast at 10:30 AM on November 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

Two more garlic tales:

I twice went to Tábor, Czechia with a medieval group for a Hussite festival. After each day's work we would sink a number of excellent Czech beers (the Czechs do beer REALLY well and are supernaturally accomplished at holding their drink. Do not try to outdrink a Czech. Czechs are one of the few nationalities who can outdrink Russians.)

So the local specialty there is garlic soup, which comes with a little bowl of croutons and another little bowl of grated cheese. That soup is the *best* hangover cure in the damn world. It'll have you reeking to high heaven and feeling fabulous in no time.

(The group has since had to discontinue the trip due to Brexit, since it had to be planned a year in advance and no one knew what was going to happen. Ah, for the garlic soup of yesteryear.)

Meanwhile, a London hangout of mine is Garlic and Shots in Soho, which is run by mad Swedes.

They serve:
-Food with garlic in it
-vodka shots

The garlic bread is the stuff of legend-- great slabs of white Texas toast, crusty on the outside and featherbed-soft within, slathered with this extremely yellow mixture of butter, garlic and red pepper flakes. I could rhapsodise about the potato skins, the batter-fried garlic cloves, the garlic Swedish meatballs. They used to do these garlic bacon-wrapped dates that were divine.

The secret to drinking there, for me, is the Bloodshot-- a mini-Bloody Mary with garlic, cumin and chili. It's not actually that alcoholic-- a lot of it is tomato juice, so a lightweight like me can still down them all night and look badass. Skål för fan!

(Sadly, the Swedish friend with whom I most often went there to sit in the dingy little concrete garden and talk about everything had to leave the country due to Brexit. We've been friends since the '90s and I miss her.)

(Brexit sucks.)
posted by Pallas Athena at 2:21 PM on November 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

Garlic bread at work operates under the birthday cake at kindergarden rule:
bring enough for everyone.

OTOH, you are not allowed to microwave tuna at work, whether paleo, keto or eiei-o.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:35 PM on November 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

posted by hototogisu at 5:18 AM on November 26, 2019

Garlic, by the way, is easy as pie to grow. I've got a pair of 4x8 beds of it outside right now. I've ordered from Hood River Garlic in the past and had pretty good luck. I think the cloves I planted this year came from Burpee (Hood River was out of the variety I wanted). A friend of mine buys garlic from the store and plants that. You may have better luck planting organic garlic in that case, since it won't be sprayed with any sort of growth inhibitors.

Put it into the ground in late summer/early fall and harvest it in late spring/early summer of the following year. Some varieties produce scapes, the delicate garlicky greens you can add to things. Tie 'em all up in braids and hang them someplace to ward off the vampires. If you have even a little bit of dirt somewhere, I encourage you to give it a try. Plant a single clove with the pointy side up a couple of inches deep and let it go. Pull it up when the above-ground greens have turned yellow and wilted. If you plant a bunch, saved your largest bulbs and use them to plant the next crop. Over time, you'll develop a nice little landrace of your own.
posted by jquinby at 6:53 AM on November 26, 2019

Oh I forgot to tell a story. Years ago I had heard that large amounts of garlic might be good for a cold, so I swallowed two (small) cloves whole like pills, then proceeded to sweat/smell/taste garlic from my entire body for days. It nearly turned me off garlic for good. Nearly. It was not as pleasant as it sounds. I never did it again.
posted by jquinby at 7:05 AM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

My local co-op sells garlic fudge, as well as candied black garlic that I have yet to work up the courage to try (mostly because it's like $8).
posted by aspersioncast at 2:15 PM on November 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

For any recipe calling for a clove or three, I usually up it to at least a whole head -- curries especially.
posted by y2karl at 3:11 PM on November 27, 2019

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