According to the National Day Calendar website, Sunday, April 19 is National Garlic Day. In honor of this upcoming holiday celebrating the aromatic member of the lily family, today I will sing the praises of fresh garlic.
I grew to love fresh garlic in my 20s. I put it in nearly every savory dish I cooked. When I heard of its medicinal properties (antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal, according to the article “7 Raw Garlic Benefits for Fighting Disease” by Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DMN, CNS ), I began to eat it raw and drink it in a sort of tea. If I began feeling rundown or the least bit sick, I’d add freshly minced garlic to hot water with a dash of cayenne and maybe a splash of honey. I’d swallow the bits of garlic down and wait for it to do its healing magic. I traveled with my garlic press and fists of Allium sativum , and I took on its aroma.
(FYI: Garlic breath isn’t because of what’s happening in one’s mouth. According to the Web MD article “Why Garlic Is the Bad Breath King” by Andrea M. Braslavsky, garlic breath begins in the gut. In summary, “the gas [from the garlic] was going into the blood, circulating around the body, and being excreted in the breath and urine.” That’s why you can brush your teeth and still have garlic breath.)
After I became homeless, there was no time for fresh produce, and I fell out of the garlic habit. Once I got a van, I experimented with the garlic that comes minced in jars. That stuff was quite convenient (if a little pricey), and was great until I ran out of ice in my cooler and the garlic got warm. Even if it tasted ok, the garlic that came to room temperature after the jar was opened left my tummy feeling unhappy.
When The Man and I started traveling together, he wanted garlic, so we experimented with the minced garlic in the jar. This time The Man was the one with the unhappy tummy, and by “unhappy,” I mean sick. The garlic from the jar—once we ran out of ice in the cooler and it got warm—was tearing him up.
After we gave up on minced garlic in the jar, I used garlic powder sometimes, but it always seemed lacking. When I saw dried garlic flakes in the store, I decided to give them a try. The garlic flakes were tastier than garlic powder, and we were satisfied whenever we sprinkled them on a dish. The problem occurred when I couldn’t find them in the grocery store. It seemed like even small grocery stores carried onion flakes, but garlic flakes were few and far between.
One day at the end of 2018, we ran out of garlic flakes, and I couldn’t’ find any in the grocery store in the small Arizona town where we were staying. I didn’t want to spend money on garlic powder I knew would leave me feeling dissatisfied, so I broke down and bought two fists of garlic.
You may wonder why I never got back into the habit of cooking with fresh garlic. I had a van and then a fifth wheel. I don’t have any good reasons. I no longer had a garlic press and chopping up a couple of cloves of garlic every evening seemed inconvenient. Fresh garlic is somewhat sticky and it seemed to take too much water to clean the knife and my hands and the cutting board. I guess the main problem is that I am basically lazy and typically take the path of least resistance. I wanted something totally convenient that would taste as good as fresh garlic.
I guess I’d forgotten how tasty fresh garlic is. When The Man and I ate the first dish I added the fresh garlic to, we were blown away. We could taste the garlic, and it added a depth of flavor no amount of garlic flakes could compare to.
I’d been on the fresh garlic bandwagon for several months without a garlic press. Every night I’d chop chop chop several cloves of garlic to add to our meal. It was a bit more work than sprinkling garlic . powder, but the extra effort was worth it because the fresh garlic tasted so much better.
I got lucky one day when I stopped in at my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Each ReStore is different, and the one I go to carries a lot of kitchenware: plates, bowls, eating and cooking utensils, mugs, glasses, pots and pans. I always look on both sides of the kitchen aisle, hoping for a good deal on something I can use in meal preparation. On this particular day I was looking for a garlic press and I found one! It’s Chefmate brand and very heavy duty. This garlic press is likely to last for years. The best part? The price. The man working the cash register only charged me $1 for the garlic press and two forks. Hell yes, I’ll take a good quality garlic press for only 33⅓ cents!
Th press really helps me keep up with my love affair with garlic without a lot of muss or fuss. Hurray for my garlic press and most of all, hurray for fresh garlic.
If you want to learn more about garlic and the health benefits it offers, check out Gerard Paul’s article “Health Effects of Garlic – Pungent with Amazing Health Benefits” on the ManyEats website.
I took the photo in this post.