When my late friend Byron bought his first car at the age of 16, his Portuguese grandmother hid a string of garlic under the driver’s seat to keep him safe. Needless to say, it wasn’t hidden for long – The smell gave it away!
When King Tut’s tomb was excavated, there were bulbs of garlic found scattered in every room. During World War 1, the Russian army used garlic to treat wounds suffered by soldiers on the Front Line. The discovery of penicillin in 1928 had mostly replaced medicinal use of garlic at home, but the war depleted most of the antibiotics, so garlic again became the antibiotic of choice. Army doctors relied so heavily on garlic that it became known as the “Russian Penicillin”.
Today, garlic is used by herbalists for a wide variety of illnesses including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, colds, flu, coughs, bronchitis, fever and ringworm. It has also shown some effectiveness in treating and liver, gallbladder, and digestive problems. Several scientific papers have been published in the last two years which strongly suggest that garlic is likely helpful in preventing heart disease and cancer.
At your local pharmacy, there are several products made from garlic. Be wary of ones that advertise being odorless. The chemical allicin is what causes garlic to smell and it is also what makes it effective. Look for garlic products that are enteric coated: This results in it being digested in the intestines instead of being rendered useless by stomach acid.
Personally, I prefer to eat my garlic fresh. The odor is not repulsive to me and I love the flavor. Sometimes I roast it in the oven. If you can’t handle eating it by the clove, this softens it so that it’s spreadable – Delicious mixed with a little butter and spread on Italian bread! I like to add a few Italian herbs and a little Parmesan cheese, too. And whenever I make soup, I start by sautéing minced garlic in olive oil. Then I add onions and celery. The smell alone makes me swoon….
Garlic is awesome when used to infuse olive oil: Add a little crushed cayenne pepper and try dipping your crusty bread in it. Or, garlic infuses vinegar nicely, too, for salad dressing.
(Caution: Olive oil infused with fresh, raw garlic should not be left at room temperature due to the possibility of botulism. Garlic infused vinegar, on the other hand, is safe because the high acidic level of vinegar prevents botulinum bacteria from developing. And it looks pretty on the counter!)
Here are some vegetables I roasted the other day. I added a few cloves of garlic to the cookie sheet and it was a really nice compliment to the asparagus! I don’t know about keeping evil spirits away, but it sure did taste good!! Enjoy!