Monday, July 16, 2007

Eat this, Berlusconi!

In an Associated Press article which appeared in this Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, we learned of a debate currently raging in Italy as to the appropriateness of garlic in culinary applications. Half humorous, half frightening, the article describes chefs and politicians who’ve started a war against garlic as an overwhelming flavor or as an offender of personal space. Like it or not, garlic has an important place in the traditional cuisines of much of Italy, the entire Mediterranean region, large parts of central and southern Asia and in many other cultures of the world. Of course, too much of anything can be bad. But just try some fresh, quality garlic and you’d be insane to want to eradicate it from the table. Julie Barrett of Willing Hands Organic Farm has produced garlic – grown from seed material provided by Keith Stewart at the Union Square Green Market – that is one of the most pristine flavors to have graced my table all year. Give it up? No way!


Nat said...

Hi Dave. It's a funny thing about garlic. Whenever I smell it, It brings me back to my grandmother's kitchen, back to Brooklyn circa 1970 somethin', where she taught me the basics of making the Sunday sauce, and the homemade sausages and meatballs, and whatever else happened to come in from the garden or the "fruit stand" that particular day. The sad thing is, garlic seemed to had lost it's luster for the longest time. Many, many years had passed where the quality of garlic available at most markets, was completely inferior. It wasn't till a few years ago, after we joined our local CSA (Inverbrook Farms in Southern Chester County) I was able to taste for the first time in years-dare I say decades-garlic that completely transported me back to that small little kitchen I grew up in-oh so many years ago. I am so greatful I live in an area the affords me those trips back there. I can't wait to get my first taste. Be sure I'll be scouring all the local farmstands as well, to get my full.
All the best. Nat

David McDuff said...

Nat, Thanks for the impassioned comment. I think too many of us have taken garlic -- as well as many other garden based ingredients -- for granted over the years. It's always a great wake-up call to taste something that's fresh and pure. And it's incredible how these experiences can trigger such clear memories and emotional responses.

HungryChic said...

Garlic, like Chardonnay (and oak) referring to your post, has suffered from ill use of a great item. Too many unskilled cooks and chefs overusing garlic and not treating it with the respect it deserves. The public getting used to the flavor of minced garlic from the jar in the produce section, laden with preservatives is not a good thing.

David McDuff said...

You're absolutely right. Garlic has fallen into the pothole of overuse and misunderstanding. It's also something that can be easy enough to slag until you've had a truly fresh example. Comparing the full garlic heads in the supermarket (much less the pre-minced stuff) to the fresh cloves from the farmers market is like comparing Starkist tuna to a freshly sliced piece of sashimi at a good Japanese restaurant. There is no comparison....

Thanks for reading,

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