The Stinking Rose: Garlic

by Karyn Siegel-Maier

 

Ah, garlic…otherwise known as the "stinking rose." Garlic has been featured in every tabloid and magazine in the country and its mystical healing powers touted for everything from high blood pressure to varicose veins. And let's not forget about providing protection from vampires! Obviously, some of the health claims attributed to garlic stem from folklore and myth. But, there are some very promising medical uses for garlic to encourage liberal use for most people. (Note: Studies are inconclusive, but some indicate that garlic's ability to lower blood pressure and HDL levels can be inconsistent. Therefore, if you have high blood pressure, or diabetes, be careful about your intake of foods from the allium family - garlic, onions, etc.)

One of the main principals of garlic is allicin, which is responsible for giving one that "did-you-eat-garlic-for- lunch-today?" breath after a meal of indulgence. Allicin, as well as the constituents S-ally-cysteine and ajoene, has also shown an ability to inhibit the growth of bacteria, including the organism responsible for the development of tuberculosis. S-ally-cysteine has received particular attention for its ability to prevent cancerous cells from binding with human breast tissue. Another compound found in garlic that is being studied for its anti-cancer properties is diallyl disulphide, which is released when garlic cloves are cut or crushed. Both Diallyl disulphide and S-ally-cysteine were studied at the University of Texas. When these agents were introduced to two animal carcinomas, the tumors were reduced by 50 to 75 percent.

 

At Penn State, another compound called diallyl trisulfide (DATS) found in processed garlic oil was studied and the findings later presented at Experimental Biology '96, a conference involving 18 scientific societies. The compound was found to suppress the growth of cancer cells, both in animal models and in human cells in vitro. In fact, treatment with 10mg of DATS for 24 hours prevented the synthesis of cancer cells by nearly 50%. Furthermore, a dose of 50 micrograms for 24 hours inhibited cell growth by 72%, and a dose of 100 micrograms actually killed the cancer cells altogether within 24 hours. Impressive, wouldn't you say?

 

Personally, I find the taste of garlic, and its culinary versatility, equally impressive. The cloves slip right out of their skin after roasting in a slow oven (250'F) for 45 minutes. You can then add them to a recipe, or…pop 'em into your mouth. Needless to say, others may find a certain odor about you for a few hours, even days, but if you're a garlic lover it's worth the risk. (Note - when roasting garlic heads, remove the very outer skin only. A sprig of fresh thyme placed on the top before roasting enhances flavor.)

 

 

French Garlic Soup

 

Serve with a plate of fresh fruit and sliced cheese and a robust red wine.

 

6 cloves garlic, peeled

12 oz. Beef broth

2 cups water

1 cup dry sherry or cognac

½ cup butter

3 tbls grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Sliced french bread

 

Combine beef broth and garlic in saucepan. Simmer 15-20 minutes. Remove garlic when soft and reserve. Add sherry, water and heat to serving temperature.

 

Toast bread in broiler. Carefully remove and spread untoasted side with butter.

 

Mash reserved garlic and spread over bread. Sprinkle with cheese and broil again just until cheese bubbles. Place a piece of toast in each of 5 soup bowls. Ladle hot soup over bread and serve.

 

 

Eggplant-Garlic Soup

 

This broth is terrific as-is or when used as a base stock for other soups and stews.

 

1 Large eggplant

1 head whole roasted garlic

8 cups chicken or vegetable broth

 

Place the broth into a large soup pot. Cut the eggplant into chunks and boil in salted water until soft. Remove and place in food processor. Chop until to a very fine pulp. Add the chopped eggplant to the soup pot. Peel the garlic cloves (roasted cloves only require a slight squeeze) and add to the soup mixture. Heat to serving temperature and serve with crusty bread.

 

 

Garlic & Rosemary Potatoes

 

Rosemary, garlic and olive oil are an amazing combination in this comfort food.

 

1 lb small red potatoes

10-12 cloves garlic (depending on taste)

¼ cup olive oil

1 tbls fresh rosemary leaves (or 2 tsp dried)

2 tbls fresh parsley, chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Wash & dry potatoes and cut into large chunks. Toss potatoes with the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, parsley and pepper. Arrange in a single layer in a shallow baking dish and bake at 450'F for 30 minutes. Turn potatoes and bake another 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and browned.

 

 

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