Garlic is fun to cook with, but not many people it seems know much about this amazing herb and food seasoning, and if presented with a bulb of garlic, might not even know what to do with it. Garlic comes from the same family as onions and leeks.
Garlic is most often used as a versatile spice or seasoning. It enhances and flavors everything from spaghetti sauce to salad dressings, vinaigrettes, cooked vegetables, roasted or braised meats, soups, stews... the list goes on and on. It is often used to make Garlic Butter and Garlic Toast.
There are over 450 varieties of garlic, which is one of the most ancient food spices and flavorings known to man. Archeological records show that garlic was in use over 8,000 years ago. Garlic contains a host of trace minerals which are vital to the normal, healthy functioning of an individual's metabolism - magnesium, zinc, iron, selenium just to name a few.
Garlic was first domestically planted and cultivated in the central regions of Asia. It was widely used by nobility, but it was also used in religious observances as well as medicine. Both garlic and onions are toxic to dogs and cats.
The crushing of garlic cloves releases enzymes which trigger creation of sulfur compounds that are responsible for the distinctive and long lasting smell of garlic.
The health benefits of garlic have been long touted, since garlic contains both vitamins A and C as well as being a good source of fibre and healthful amino acids. Egypt is recognized as the first ancient civilization to incorporate garlic into it's regular diet.
Garlic was an integral part of the diet in ancient Roman and Grecian cultures. After the demise of the Roman Empire, European cultures used garlic everywhere, from a seasoning in food to medicinal compounds. Before the advent of Penicillin, it was even used in World Wars I and II as a wound antiseptic to treat infections.