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Congratulations, Garlic!

Por MyDiet™ -
Congratulations, Garlic!

Yes, it sounds surreal, almost vampire-like, but this is how it goes: in the United States, two annual festivals held in April and July pay tribute to . . . garlic.

National Garlic Day is celebrated every year on April 19th. Also, in the last week of July, the city of Gilroy (an hour outside of San Francisco, California) celebrates the Gilroy Garlic Festival which is an event that attracts thousands of fans of this aromatic and healing bulb.

Considered the world's garlic capital, the city of Gilroy uses this basic ingredient to season absolutely everything; there's garlic soup, garlic ice cream, garlic tea, and even chocolate with a touch of garlic.

During both events, it's tradition to prepare loaves of garlic bread that yield 30,000 slices in order to satisfy the voraciousness of thousands of visitors who come to pay their respects to garlic and to get an up-close look at the beautiful Miss Garlic of the year.

As ancient legend has it, garlic grows in places where the devil placed his left foot after abandoning paradise. Since time immemorial this herb has been used to scare away witches, vampires, and evil spirits. But it has also been used to strengthen the immune system, reduce the impact of infections, and provide the body with energy.

Today, science knows for certain that garlic eases toothaches and reduces cholesterol and  blood pressure. And it also works as an antibacterial and anti-clotting agent. What's still left to confirm is what ancient civilizations used to believe--that it enhances libido and sexual power.

Those who want to take advantage of its beneficial properties but can't stand its strong scent should know that the trademark aroma of garlic diminishes when it's eaten with vegetables, especially with parsley. This also occurs when you mix it with oil and vinegar.

Owing to its dominating and, for many, exquisite taste,  garlic has become a basic ingredient in Mediterranean, Arab, and Indian cuisine. Today there are an infinite number of sauces based on garlic such as the Italian specialty "ali-oli," a type of mayonnaise made with garlic and olive oil, and the Turkish "cacik": a refreshing soup made with yogurt, cucumbers, mint, and garlic. Another similar yet stronger sauce is the Greek "tsatsiki" which is used on chicken roasted on the grill. Middle Eastern cuisine offers "hummus," a mixture of ground garbanzos, tahini, and a lot of garlic. 

One essential thing to keep in mind is that many of the benefits this bulb has on our health diminish when it's cooked. That's why the saying says: "garlic cooked is garlic wasted."

Some ideas for preparing it raw:

  • Finely chopped and mixed into salads with steamed green beans and potatoes
  • On anchovies or sardines with a drizzle of olive oil, minced in Spanish gazpacho
  • On roasted peppers and mushrooms
  • Spread on toasted bread
  • In a pesto sauce with basil and olives

More ideas are available at the Gilroy festival which, in July, celebrates its 30-year anniversary of promoting the consumption of garlic.


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