All About Garlic
Over the passage of time, garlic has been used all around the world. It has been used as an aphrodisiac, utilised for medicinal purposes, exchanged as monetary currency, used as a magic potion and was even supposed to ward off evil spirits. However, it is almost certainly more commonly known as a tasty food ingredient.
There is some doubt over where garlic originated as it is one of the world’s oldest cultivated plants. However, it is believed to be native in central Asia, South Asia or southwestern Siberia. Part of the lily family, the plant is one of the most indispensable ingredients along with its closest relatives the onion, shallot, leek and chive.
It has been said that hopeful grooms would place cloves in their buttonholes and Chinese doctors would prescribe it help improve intimacy in relationships. Garlic has also inspired passion in ancient Egyptian, Greek, Indian and Chinese writings as well as the Bible where it is also mentioned.
The pungent bulb is quoted in Greek, Chinese, Egyptian and European medical texts as the cure for many illnesses, including the plague, animal bites, heart disease and fatigue.
In medieval times, it is said that bulbs were hung over doors to protect those inside from evil. It was rubbed on door frames and garlic clove garlands were worn around the neck to help protect you from blood thirsty vampires.
Egyptians used garlic as a local currency to pay those working on the pyramids and became so popular that at times there was a shortage of garlic. Clay garlic bulbs were put into Egyptian tombs of those who had died although it is not certain if these were intended as money for their afterlife or to satisfy the Gods.
Widely used as an ingredient in recipes, garlic brings a depth of flavour to most savoury dishes and plays a central role in many different cuisines. At the Gascony Cookery School we use it in many of our recipes. Our Garlic Soup recipe is a classic one for you to try:-
SOUPE À L’AIL
3 tbsp olive oil
1 head of garlic, peel and slice cloves
1 litre chicken stock
1 baguette sliced
½ tsp dried thyme
Sauté garlic in the oil in a medium saucepan over a low heat until tender (around 7 – 10 mins) then transfer onto a plate.
Fry the baguette slices in the pan until golden brown on each side. Transfer 2 baguette slices into each bowl.
Place the garlic back into the saucepan and add the chicken stock and thyme, simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste.
Ladle the soup over the toasted bread and serve immediately.
Here at the Gascony Cookery School we always look forward to welcoming our new students and there’s still time to enjoy the sunshine, our beautiful surroundings, and of course our gorgeous food and wine this season.
Dave, Vikki and Bernard