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Love garlic? You’ll love this! February 4, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. If you’re a fan of the “stinking rose,” you’ll love this quote, which I found in a book I’m currently reading called The Last Days of Haute Cuisine: America’s Culinary Revolution (Patric Kuh, Viking, 2001).

The book chronicles the rise and fall of elitist establishments like New York’s Le Pavillon, where the food was French, the chef was French, the menu was in French, and if you weren’t upper-crusty enough, you were seated in the back, even if you owned the restaurant. It goes on to discuss the rise of new styles of cuisine, from The Four Seasons to Chez Panisse, and American food celebrities like Julia Child and James Beard. It’s an extremely educational look behind the scenes for those of us who weren’t there to experience Prohibition and the cooking trends of the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s in person.

I was reading along thinking “Hmmm, this is interesting,” when I stumbled on this absolutely marvelous quote about garlic and the timidity of the Western (in this case, British) palate by Elizabeth David in a book called Summer Cooking. I have no idea who Elizabeth David is or was, but talk about a zinger! Garlic fans, rejoice, and keep this quote in mind for the next occasion on which someone launches into an anti-garlic tirade:

“The grotesque prudishness and archness with which garlic is treated in this country has led to the superstition that rubbing the bowl with it before putting the salad in gives sufficient flavour. It rather depends whether you’re going to eat the bowl or the salad.”

Bravo! I still come upon instructions to rub the salad bowl with a cut clove of fresh garlic all the time. This may give a faint aroma of garlic as you dish up the salad, but it certainly won’t flavor the salad. It would be like rubbing the plate on which garlic knots are served with a cut garlic clove rather than mincing the garlic into the oil that’s served as a dipping sauce for the knots.

Admittedly, I like my garlic cooked, though I certainly don’t shy away from it in any form (or quantity). I can’t resist fresh-baked garlic knots. And the best Caesar salad I’ve ever eaten is served by my friend Dolores, who minces more than a few garlic cloves into her dressing. Yum!

If this “grotesque prudery” is caused by a fear of garlic breath, for pity’s sake. A clean mouth before dining and a cup of mint tea afterwards (or chewing some fresh mint leaves) should take care of that! So should a little fresh-squeezed lemonade. But the best remedy of all is a healthy diet (and thus good digestion) and good dental hygiene (which of course includes brushing your gums and tongue).

So take care of your health and enjoy your garlic! And, please, try not to eat the salad bowl.

‘Til next time,