I am a garlic lover. I make no bones about that. Always have been. Always will be. Lucky for me, my significant other also loves garlic. And that helps in a relationship. Garlic is the wonder food, wonder herb, wonder medicine all combined in one. Most of us know it as a seasoning. But did you know that garlic has a pedigree that goes back to the beginning of time? It began in Central Asia in Neolithic Times, and then spread to the world. The Ancient Greeks used garlic to boost strength. the Roman legions fed it to their soldiers to make them stronger and more courageous. The Ancient Indians considered it an aphrodisiac. The Egyptian “Codex Ebers,” the oldest preserved medical document written in 1550 B.C.E., has 22 different medical formulations for garlic. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used garlic to treat pneumonia and cancerous tumors. Louis Pasteur recommended it as an antiseptic in 1858. And during World War II the British and Russians, when nothing else was available, used it to disinfect wounds and treat gangrene.
Garlic’s history is phenomenal. In the Mishnah, a collection of Jewish traditions incorporated into the Talmud, the ancient Hebrew writers refer to themselves as “The Garlic Eaters”—and this was probably long before Moses came on the scene. In some circles, garlic (allium sativum) is known as the “stinking rose.” And because of its pungent smell, in certain cultures it’s used as a mosquito repellent. Figure it this way, if nothing else, it keeps vampires away. In Palastinian tradition a groom wears a clove of garlic in his buttonhole to guarantee a happy wedding night—who needs Viagra?
Garlic is GOOD for you. It contains antioxidants, and is a good source of protein and minerals such as calcium, iron and potassium. It also has vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin C.
Today garlic is known mainly for its cooking properties, since it has been used since ancient times as an herbal flavoring. I cook with garlic all the time. Need that special lift that will transform an ordinary dish into something unique?—add garlic, chopped, crushed, whole, raw or cooked.
For those out you out there who complain: “But what about the smell?” Simple, stop bitching and take some breath mints. believe me, what garlic affords goes beyond its odor.
Following along this vein, below is a recipe that uses lots of garlic. Don’t be concerned. Only the distinct flavor will survive in the dish, and it will transport you to heaven.
4 small roasting chickens, quartered
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons oregano
2 heads of garlic
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1. Take one head of garlic, separate cloves, and leave them unpeeled. Peel the second head of garlic and crush the cloves.
2. Rinse chicken parts under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and oregano.
3. Place the chicken in a pan or dish, and add the peeled and crush garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and rosemary. Roll chicken pieces in the mixture, coating well. Cover and let marinate 2 hours, turning occasionally.
4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place unpeeled garlic cloves in a single layer in a lightly greased roasting pan; and roast 20 minutes, stirring cloves from time to time. Remove from oven.
5. Drain chicken parts and discard marinade.
6. Place chicken, skin side down in a greased roasting pan, and roast for 15 minutes at 4oo degrees. Reduce heat to 375 and roast about 45 minutes more or until done.
7. Remove the chicken from the oven. Let it stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, and serve with the roasted garlic.
Yield: 4 servings.