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 BreadMy 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.