Garlic: A love affair with history

25 Jan

“And, most dear actors, eat no onions nor garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath.”
William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)
‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

One of the many memorable interactions, for me, from the movie The Big Chill is this dialog between Michael and Sam.

Michael: I don’t know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They’re more important than sex.

Sam Weber: Ah, come on. Nothing’s more important than sex.

Michael: Oh yeah? Ever gone a week without a rationalization?

Score one for Jeff Goldblum.  But along those lines, I’d like you to sit back and imagine going a week without garlic in your kitchen.  A week?  Think you could do it?

Garlic has been around since the beginning of time, and evidence of the use of garlic can be found in ancient Egypt and even William Shakespeare spoke of it in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  To this day the pungent flavor can be found in traditional cooking across the four corners of the world, and I for one would cry if I had to go a week without it in my kitchen.

Garlic is relatively easy to grow, and  can be produced in varying climates, and in the US it is grown as a cash crop in every state except Alaska.  California is the lead producer domestically, but China takes the bulb, so to speak, in producing about 77% of the world’s total production.

I lived in Guatemala while serving in the Peace Corps, and in the Northwest Highlands were I was, Garlic was king.   It grew everywhere and was used in everything.

Garlic for roasting plus a little olive oil

With all this snow and cold weather we are having, making soup is a nice way to take the chill out of the house and our of your bones.   I found this recipe for Roasted Garlic with Parmesan Soup on epicurious.com, and it seems perfect for a nice warm lunch.

Garlic tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper

I tossed the garlic cloves with olive oil and salt and pepper, placed them in a baking dish, and covered the dish with foil and placed it in the over at 350 for about 45 minutes.  In the interim I sliced a yellow onion and peeled another 15 or 20 cloves of garlic.   As the garlic was roasting I sautéed the onions and chopped thyme in our Le Creuset 5 quart pan, the favorite in our house.  After the garlic was done roasting I popped it out of the shells and into the pan with the onions and thyme.

Fresh roasted garlic

Sautéed onions, roasted garlic, thyme and fresh garlic

The smell in the kitchen was strong but familiar.  I let everything come together in the pan on low heat and caramelize for about 15 minutes.  It was more than the recipe called for, but I was looking to get as much flavor out of the ingredients as I could.  I then added the chicken stock and covered, while I pulled out the parmesan cheese to grate for the final touch in the soup.

Soup is on

I finished the soup with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a squeeze of lemon, and added some croutons on top that I toasted with some butter.  The soup came out wonderful, and although my wife was skeptical (she’s not a huge garlic lover) when she came home for lunch, and was slightly shocked by the smell in the house as soon as she walked in, she was pleasantly surprised and gave the final product two thumbs up.

Remember, Food is Love!

Cheers,

Justin

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3 Responses to “Garlic: A love affair with history”

  1. Krista January 25, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

    enchanting read. roasted garlic… yum. though I can’t imagine, upon coming home, being first greeted by a waft of garlic. And as usual, great photos. enjoyed the color and perspective.

    • Justin Ide January 25, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

      Thanks so much Krista … it was soo yummy!

  2. Brian @ A Thought For Food January 25, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    Anyone who quotes The Big Chill has got to be a good guy. I know that scene very well… “Does a bear s*it in the woods?”

    I too love garlic… roasted, raw… however I can get it. Love this recipe!

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