Ah yes, The Glory of Garlic, or should this blog be called The Allure of Alliums? By the end of this writing, you be the judge. As you know if you have ever read any of my other posts, I am big on quotes. French American chef and culinary writer Louis Diat, who often claimed he was the creator of the famed cold leek and potato soup, “Vichyssoise” once said, “without garlic, I would simply not care to live”.
As you know, garlic falls into a category of foods known as alliums, whose cousins include scallions, shallots, leeks, chives and ramps. Besides making food taste great in almost every culture around the globe, garlic and alliums in general provide a host of healthy benefits. The potential for lowering blood pressure, inhibiting the activity of certain inflammatory proteins that drive health issues like heart disease diabetes and arthritis, and may lower cholesterol and support immune functions. Garlic nutrients and plant compounds give it strong antioxidant properties which may soak up the damaging free radicals that could lead to diseases like cancer. Not to mention, though it has been unproven and disputed, garlic has even been thought to ward off vampires, if you're into that sort of thing 😉.
Now self admittedly, I am without a doubt a “garlicaholic”. Not quite in the same league as Louis Diat, as if garlic didn't exist, I'd still want to live. That's said, I would still have all the other alliums to cling to like a life preserver. Dishes that spotlight the use of garlic can be extraordinarily simple or incredibly complex. Albeit, depending who you speak to, garlic should be used sparingly as not to overpower. Personally, I don't see it that way. The more the merrier I say. But then again, I am a “garlicaholic”.
An example of a simple garlic recipe, that is frankly one of my very favorites is New Jersey-Style Garlic Crabs consisting of fresh cleaned cracked crabs sautéed over high heat with lots of garlic, onion, butter, ground pepper and chili flakes.
Served with a local IPA after an exhausting fishing trip... “Life is Good”. If you are ever in the vicinity of Seaside Park, NJ. I recommend you stop into Bum Rogers Crab House & Tavern and order yourself some, you won't be disappointed.
An example to me, of garlic recipes considered to be complex, would be anything that involves the use of black garlic. I have served many sauces using black garlic on a variety of protein and vegetable dishes and the number one description I get is that it tastes “mysterious”. Although black garlic may look like fresh garlic gone bad, it's an ingredient that chefs across the globe have embraced whole heartedly. It's sweet earthy taste minus the alliums characteristic heat make it the ultimate umami packed flavor booster adding incredibly complex and intense flavor to dishes.
To be fair and equitable let's go back to alliums in general. My favorite by far (although a close personal second would be ramps) is the Spanish calcot. Calcots are essentially a variety of green onions from the Catalonian Region of Spain. For me and many, they are truly something out of a good dream. Calcots, are celebrated each year sometime between January and the end of April with a host of festivals and rituals. They're simply served chard on a platter and sucked down with a generous swallow of red wine. Personally, I love to make and serve them with a side of romesco sauce, again, something out of a beautiful dream.
As all of us here at Custom Culinary® truly live our motto, Be True to the Food™. That said, I highly recommend you order our Custom Culinary® Master’s Touch® Roasted Garlic Flavor Concentrate. This delicious labor-saving product will help you to romance a host of recipes celebrating “The Glory of Garlic”.
So, back to my initial question should this blog post be called The Glory of Garlic or The Allure of the Alliums… again, you be the judge. Either way, using these wonderful ingredients will certainly help you create delicious dishes for your guests.
Recommending the use of lots of mouthwash,
Michael Smith, CEC, AAC
Corporate Executive Chef
Custom Culinary, Inc.
P.S. Back to the claim that Louis Diat made about being the inventor a Vichyssoise, this too remains unproven and somewhat disputed.