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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,



Beating garlic breath. August 27, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Ugh, garlic breath, that bane of polite society. If you love hummus, baba ghannouj, aioli, garlic knots, or any other garlic-rich treat, you’ve probably come up against garlic breath many times, not to mention the reaction of your horrified friends, family and colleagues.

I was reminded of this recently when our neighbor Fran, in response to my passing along a container of my Carrot Cabbage Confetti Slaw, reciprocated with a tray of hot-from-the-oven beer bread and garlic dip. The dip was made from half mayo and half sour cream (Fran used low-fat for both) impregnated with about a dozen minced garlic cloves and a good spoonful of garlic salt to boot. Whew! It was super-tasty, but our friend Ben and I were left with terminal garlic breath after we’d enjoyed it.

What to do? I’ve tried eating parsley, chewing mints, brushing my teeth, eating plain yogurt, eating bread, eating rice. No dice. Garlic must be one of the most persistent scents on earth, second only to skunk. It’s enough to make a self-respecting person give up garlic altogether for the greater good of society.

But today I made a discovery. Our dog Shiloh was socializing with Fran and Bill’s dog Ollie when Fran emerged from the house with a carton of the luscious garlic dip. “Here, take this, I’ve made way too much,” she said. Well, yum, was I really going to say no to that? Not to mention that the only thing I’d eaten all day was some virtuous cottage cheese and tomato and, frankly, I was feeling a little hungry. But sadly, I didn’t have any dipping bread in the house. So I grabbed what I did have, plain tortilla chips, and ate a couple with the dipping sauce, then ate a couple more plain to wash them down.

Whoa… wait a minute… there’s no garlic breath! That can’t be, can it? I know there’s no lingering garlic taste, but I still must have killer breath after that teaspoon or two of garlic-saturated dip. So I put my hand in front of my mouth and blow into it to drive the breath up to my nose. Still not a single whiff of garlic. Could tortilla chips really, finally be the answer? The Garlic-Breath Terminator? Try it, and tell me what you (and your family) think. 

         ‘Til next time,