Backstory for upcoming Episode 5; WE LOVE GARLIC!!! We the informed consumer, we the People, we the rabid eater, we the Italians, we the production team of DIO, we the voices in the blogger’s head. Garlic is everywhere. 23 billion pounds are grown annually in China, making the Chinese the number one in the world for garlic production. In the United States it’s California that brings home the bulb-con. And Gilroy, CA
is the undisputed garlic capital of the Golden State. Gilroy is so far into it’s main crop it celebrates it’s bounty in a weekend long celebration the last weekend in July (http://www.gilroygarlicfestival.com). Rides, cooking demos, songs, dancing, ice cream, recipes, feats of strength all lend in to the frivolity. Such reverence. It’s nice to see kids appreciate their roots. Sort of speak. Garlic is grown in every US state except for Alaska. Insert clever Sarah Palin joke here.
For 6,000 years garlic has been used in the cuisines of Asia, Africa, Europe and along the Mediterranean. The uses went past cooking and were medicinal. In European countries it was considered a talisman to ward off evil and was hung, worn and displayed in addition to being eaten. There are studies of Eastern European countries that consume a large quantity of garlic having very low numbers of cases of cancer. There are studies claiming it’s effectiveness in the treatment of high blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease. My mother testifies to growing up and wearing garlic to bed to clear up chest colds. Of course this is before indoor plumbing and Pandora. She also speaks lovingly of my Grandfather Adam, a true garlic enthusiast. Grandpa Adam would have all the buddies over on Sundays and they would barbecue down by the
barn; Men Only. Meat, chicken & farm made sausage were roasted as was heavy rye bread and then rubbed with big garlic cloves and bacon fat. This was happening while small glasses of vodka were consumed. Grandpa Adam was big into garlic and when the weather turned, whole cloves were consumed to beef up the blood and keep the colds away. This much to the chagrin of my Uncles who would play basketball. Old Adam would come to the games and sit in the bleachers. No one would be around him as the smell permeated on out. Can you imagine? Not liking the smell of garlic coming off a stranger? It speaks to me that this person knows a good thing from their smell. I’m forever sniffing people, it’s a bad habit. Like my tactile thing too. But I digress.
There is an Islamic myth that considers when Satan left the Garden Of Eden in his left footprint grew garlic in the right, onion. The scent of garlic is considered very rude to bring into mosque to prayer. Buddhists limit the intake of said favorite ingredient as during meditation, the scent can prove distracting. I find enlightenment in all cloves, color me rustic. It’s a theory among the Dish It Out Network of Informants & Thieves that, “IF THEY DON’T LIKE GARLIC, DON’T TRUST THEM”. But some people really take offense to second hand garlic. Maybe it’s a fear. Alliumaphobia is the irrational fear of garlic. The taste or the smell can send people into pleas of “You need a mint” or “Scope would be your new best friend”. Dismiss those miscreants I say. I do exercise patience for those that have true allergies to my little friend. It strikes me horrible that they can’t know the pleasant burn and rapture of flavor that a fine chop, mince or dice can do in a salad. There’s an amazing recipe that involves Chicken and the 40 cloves, Ali Baba step to the side. Hell, in the winter I throw down a clove daily to keep the doctor away. Not that my GP is a vampire. Since that little amazing little enzyme, allyl methyl sulfide, doing so many wonderful things inside my mind and body I reckon that it’s still working externally by removing these people from my face. They must be toxic (joke). Thanks AMS!!
A thousand years ago I worked in a fancy dancy tableside restaurant. We crafted preparations of many classics; Steak Dianne, Cherries Jubilee, Rack of Lamb, Chateaubriand, Bananas Foster right in front of the seated parties. The star of this show was always the Caesar Salad. The garridome (cart) was wheeled to your table, the wooden bowl was presented. An elf appeared with the tray of fresh ingredients (looking like an artist’s palate) and the magic began. The scent of the mashed garlic was the show opener as the bottom of the bowl was christened. The smack of the capers would hit the guests nose only until the sea like waft of the anchovies distracted them. Mixing was enhanced with a splash of creole mustard
and worstershire. The original recipe going back to Caesar Cardini was rumored to have hot sauce. Cardini was an Italian from San Diego, cooking in Tijuana, Mexico. Story goes that in 1924 the hotel he was cooking at was besieged by a rush of 4th of July tourists and left him with few ingredients to feed the Sunday night regulars. So he made do with what was left in the pantry, added a little flourish, and made the salad tableside. Leave it to the Italians. We would use a raw egg in our recipe. It was kissed with a squeeze of half a fresh lemon, smelt like heaven. And then the dressing was whipped into shape. The olive oil came to the fold slowly. As the whipping continued a light mayo was the result. The test for doneness was when the dressing would cling to the fork. The elf would reappear with crisp romaine, just rinsed and tossed, and chilled plates and forks. Lettuce went to the dressing with Romano, croutons and then tossed. Happy patrons consumed the artistry and off we would wheel to then next salad-surgery. Those garridomes would rack up the miles on a busy saturday night. Sometimes we would have two going at the same table for different dishes, now that was showmanship.
“Clove Is In The Air” is our all-star tribute to Garlic. Whether you baste it, taste it, smoke it, poke it, live it, laugh it, freeze it, sneeze it, grill it, chill it, love it, shove it, buy it, fry it, roast it or toast it enjoy our episode celebrating the one bulb that won’t ever dim it’s impact on dining and well being. On a side note, I mention in this episode about my cousin Ruth, the opera singer and her wheat germ potato salad. Crazy, both exist. She’s a talent above and beyond. Please check her out at http://www.ruthharcovitz.com because opera and garlic go together like champagne and hot tubs. And go home tonight and roast a bulb of garlic on the grill in some foil, or in the oven with some olive oil or red wine. Here’s a little S (suprise, given greatful for your love, free of charge) Tony’s Special Stuff:This is something I make for VIP’s in the restaurant, and a nice condiment for antipasto trays. Enjoy the recipe, Episode 5, and come hungry!!!
Tony’s Special Stuff
3 Tablespoons chopped garlic
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, cilantro)
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Use whatever fresh herbs are available to you. Add ingredients in order of recipe. Mix well and let stand before serving. Great with crusty bread, crudite and grilled items.