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Garlic: There's no Escape

Brush your teeth 20 times. Chew 10 sticks of peppermint gum. You can't get rid of it. It lasts longer than a Christmas fruitcake - garlic breath.

But that heady roasted garlic chicken you ate last night was worth it. (Warning: If you have a job interview today, better do it over the phone!)

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Garlic is one of the most popular and misunderstood herbs. It has been called a vegetable.

Some love the pungent taste. Others flee like vampires.

Chester Aaron can't get enough of the nose-tickling cousin of the onion. He's the author of The Great Garlic Book (Ten Speed Press, $14.95), full of history, tips, and recipes about the odoriferous bulb.

If you're like Mr. Aaron and savor garlic's pungent flavor, add it during the last stages of preparation to whatever you're cooking, he says. Uncooked garlic is strongest when minced, chopped, crushed, or pureed. If you prefer a milder flavor, whole cloves should be used. In broths, soups, or roasts, whole cloves develop a delicate, sweet, nutty flavor, Aaron says.

After you're finished feasting, to calm or eliminate garlic breath, try chewing on fresh parsley during or after meals, or having a bowl of lime sherbet for dessert.

And if your hands reek of garlic, rub them with salt or lemon juice and rinse under cold water, then wash with soap.

Now you're ready for that job interview - in person.

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White Almond Garlic Soup With Grapes

8 ounces blanched almonds, ground

3 slices white bread without crust, chopped

10 cloves garlic, peeled

6 cups milk

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

2 cups virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

40 white seedless grapes, sliced in half

Mix almonds, bread, garlic, milk, and vinegar in a blender at medium speed until well-blended. Switch blender to high speed and slowly add olive oil until the mixture is smooth. If the mixture tastes too strong of either garlic or vinegar, add a small amount of water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill soup for several hours. Garnish with grapes.

- From "The Great Garlic Book" by Chester Aaron (Ten Speed Press, $14.95)

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