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Garlic is one of the most important seasonings used in any cooking, and is also an ingredient in its own right. Not only does it add tons of flavor to meals from all cuisines (you’ll find it in any German cookbook, French cookbook, instant pot cookbooks… you name it), but it is also extremely good for you.
Garlic Origin and History
Garlic has been used in food and medicine now for over 5,000 years. During this long history, it has been considered a revered and holy food offered to the gods, and it has been reviled as a waste product only suitable for dogs!
The history of garlic has certainly never been boring though. It has always had close ties with religion and myth. Garlic cloves were placed in Egyptian tombs to act as offerings for the gods, and they were used to pay and feed the workers who built the great pyramids.
Garlic has of course also been associated with vampires. In some cultures it was considered too pungent to be allowed near religious institutions!
Indeed, the smell is one of the most notable features of garlic, and one of the things that makes it so useful in cooking today.
Garlic is originally thought to be native to central Asia, South Asia, and Southwester Asia. There is debate over the starting place of the herb however.
Health Benefits of Garlic
Before we get onto the many culinary uses for garlic, let’s first consider the other compelling reason to keep garlic in your spice racks: the health benefits!
Garlic is a natural antibiotic, meaning that it helps to kill germs and bacteria. If you have a sore throat, then chewing garlic can actually help to fight the source of infection – and the same goes for stomach infections, and mouth infections. Should you have bad breath, garlic will help to kill bacteria and thereby combat halitosis – even though this seems counterintuitive given the smell of garlic itself!
Garlic is also a vasodilator. That means it helps to open up the blood vessels and thereby encourage blood flow. This can improve athletic performance, muscle building, and even focus and concentration!
Finally, garlic is also extremely good for indigestion.
Garlic Cooking Tips
There are lots of ways you can use garlic in cooking. You can remove entire cloves and use these wit the skin on in a tray bake. Likewise, if you remove the skin, they can be dropped into sauce pans, stock pots, or any other part of stainless steel cookware sets.
Garlic is popular in pasta. Whether it’s bolognaise or carbonara, it can probably be made tastier with a little extra garlic. Another option is to add it to pizza before putting it in the pizza oven. In these cases, you should chop the garlic nice and small on a cutting board.
Garlic can be kept out of the fridge but will start to age eventually. For these reasons, it can sometimes be easier and quicker to use garlic flakes (which you can buy as herbs), or to use a garlic press and make a garlic paste.
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