Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Steenking Rose

A ramble about my favorite food:
You know what I miss? The Gilroy Garlic Festival. Yeah, sure, people like to yak about the chocolate-covered garlic, garlic ice cream, and garlic chardonnay (AKA garlic juice with a hint of oak), but the Festival has plenty of food for non-addicts, too. I remember terrific bouillabaisse, gumbo, and pale pestos -- pale because you wouldn't want to obscure your garlic with too much basil. We ate our bouillabaisse at a picnic table with a couple in their fifties. I recall kvetching that I had to put more and more garlic in my red sauces to taste it. What was happening to garlic? Was it getting weaker? "Guess what," said the husband. "We have to eat it raw. It's the only way we can taste it nowadays." Garlic has modest antiplatelet and lipid-lowering effects. There's even some weak evidence that a diet rich in garlic lowers the risk of colon and stomach cancers. You know what? I don't give a damn. I like garlic because it tastes good and it gets me high. Yeah, you heard me. I get a buzz off garlic. I've tried to find a web reference to back me up on this, but all I can find is this quote from Tantrik Vegetarianism: By now the reader might ask: "Why are onion, garlic and mushrooms bad?" As a matter of fact, onion and garlic are good for the body. They are bad for the mind. All three irritate and heat lower chakras (psychospiritual centers) and, thus, tend to make a person more irritable, distracted and sexually indiscriminant. It's true, too. After eating a head of raw garlic, I'll shag anything that moves. More: Garlic is a good medicine: its antibacterial and blood purifying qualities have been known for centuries. Ginger has similar qualities without the negative mental effects (and bad smell) of garlic. I'm sorry. Ginger cheese bread doesn't do it for me. Which reminds me:
Garlic Cheese Bread
My apologies for not giving precise measurements. You'll have to wing it. Combine softened butter with freshly grated parmesan cheese (Reggiano, puhlease!) and paprika. Mash together. Dried basil is a nice addition, too. Slice a loaf of good quality French bread lengthwise. Toast it under the broiler until golden. Take raw, peeled garlic cloves and 'sand' them against the toasted French bread. Rub them against the crust as well as the toasted cut surface of the loaf. Spread the butter/cheese/herb mixture on the loaf's cut surface and return it to the broiler. Watch it carefully. Once the cheese has melted and browned slightly, you're done. Remember: you can get the garlic smell off your fingers by rubbing them on a stainless steel spoon or butter knife held under running water.
***
That married couple was right. By the time I hit thirty, I couldn't taste cooked garlic anymore. Nowadays, if I load a red sauce with a dozen crushed cloves I might detect a hint, but it's subtle, not satisfying, and it won't give me that delightful garlic buzz. By the way, this isn't an [insert your favorite illegal drug's name here] kind of high, but an "I feel so good about the world and all the creatures in it!" sort of feeling. Dosage recommendation: you need to consume enough that you ooze the garlic smell from your pores and your breath withers cacti. Here's another fine recipe for saturating yourself in garlic:
Bagna Cauda ("hot bath")
This simple sauce can be used on vegetables (cooked or raw), bread, fish, you name it. Be sure you soak your anchovies in milk first to de-salt them a bit. One stick of butter One can of anchovies (2 ounces) Bunches and bunches of garlic cloves, crushed (start with 6 and add more to taste) Melt the butter over low heat. Add crushed garlic and anchovies. The garlic should sizzle very little or not at all. Press the anchovies with a spoon; as the melted butter heats up, the anchovies will fall apart and seem to melt. Heat thoroughly. The more you heat this, the milder the garlic flavor will become. If you're feeling health conscious, substitute a mixture of canola oil and olive oil for the butter. Heathen.
***
Jake has decided to read To Kill A Mockingbird first. My fingers are crossed. D.

14 Comments:

Blogger Pat said...

The last time we went out for sushi, I ate everyone else's pickled ginger. Mmmmmmm....

I'm with you, though; ginger cheese toast sounds ick. But well-made ginger beer is, as the kids say, "the cat's ass". (I'm getting more and more disturbed about those kids all the time, let me tell you.)

9/01/2005 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

I'll pass on the cat's ass, but I do loves my pickled ginger. And sashimi! I'd put in a link to my old post on ankimo, but I'm feeling lazy right now.

9/01/2005 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger Lilith Saintcrow said...

There's a garlic festival in Sequin, WA, I believe, every year. One also around where I live too. I was contemplating garllic ice cream the last time around and had to pass. Cold garlic is not something I adore. But hotgarlic... ooooh, man.

I'm a traditionalist; I like garlic roasted in terracotta and spread on warm French bread.

9/01/2005 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

The only way I like cold garlic is in the pickled form. I go through a lot of pickled garlic. Haven't tried making it myself, yet.

Yeah, I always passed on garlic ice cream and chocolate-covered garlic. The wine wasn't bad.

9/01/2005 09:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Candy said...

Mmmmm, garlic... My rule of thumb is, if a recipe doesn't call for garlic, I'll add it anyway. The version of lamb shanks braised in red wine that I make uses a whole bulb of garlic.

And keep us posted on how the kid likes To Kill A Mockingbird. I read it at almost the same age (I was 12 or so, I think) and looooved it.

9/01/2005 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Gabriele C. said...

Another garlic and ginger lover here. I tend to add one of them, or even both, to a lot of receipes that don't call for it. But then, I never took cooking books any serious.

9/01/2005 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

My friend Stan taught me all I ever needed to know about cooking. "If the ingredients taste great separately, they'll taste great together." I guess that's the theory behind chocolate-covered garlic. It's certainly the idea behind mole sauce.

9/01/2005 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

BTW Lilith, I responded over at your blog but left it anonymous. My wee ego is sensitive to hate mail, and I know my fellow tribesmen can be mighty sensitive on this topic.

9/01/2005 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger Gabriele C. said...

Huch, where's your latest post gone? Did you edit and then save as draft instead of submit?

9/01/2005 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Hi Gabriele,

I published it prematurely (by accident), only 2/5 finished. It's up now in all its glory.

9/01/2005 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger Lilith Saintcrow said...

Hey Doug,

I thought that was you. :) No problemo on the anonymous posting.

I actually laugh at all the hate mail I get. My favorite was when the Scientologists and anti-Scientologists both started writing me hate mail for the same post. I wriggled in serpentine delight, knowing I had done well.

9/02/2005 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

Ahhh, garlic…second only to chocolate in my book for gustatory bliss. I never tire of finding new uses for this sensationally stinky treat.

And it’s nice to see your advice about using stainless steel to remove the garlic smell. Most people think I’m pulling their leg when I share that little gem!

9/02/2005 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Lilith: my favorite is the hate mail I get to my medical website, Medical Consumer's Advocate. I've received hate mail because my matzoh balls have butter in them, and more hate mail than you can imagine because I have the temerity to point out that ear candling is a load of crap.

Daisy: even my wife, a fellow chemist, didn't believe the stainless steel trick. Works for me, over and over again. Thanks for stopping by!

9/02/2005 06:43:00 PM  
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