Spotlight on Italian herbs: Garlic

Either you love it or you hate it – there is nothing in between unless you belong to a small minority who would enjoy garlic but is not particularly fond of the bad breath it leaves in ones mouth after having eaten it raw or cooked. Garlic haters usual don’t like onions either and will doubtlessly sustain an antique legend which reveals that when the devil was thrown out of paradise and came to earth, touching the ground with his left foot sprouted garlic and with the right one onions. In fact, both belong to the lily or liliaceae family and have a very distinctive odor.  The truth is that nobody knows the original homeland of the plant but sure is that the ancient

Mediterranean populations used it already thousands of years ago as vegetable, kitchen herb and medicine. During history it found its way in spicy sauces, smooth stews, grilled fish, roasted meat, all sorts of vegetables and summer salads including the world’s famous spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino (spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and chilli). In the medical field, the “stinking rose”, name used by the ancient Greece and Romans, was quite busy, too with an all-round employment as (a) cure against many diseases like, for instance, asthma, blood circulation problems,  hypertension, rheumatism, whooping cough, even dependence from tobacco. The carrier as cosmetic, at the contrary, was not very successful.  For a while, people made scalp massages with a decoction of vinegar and garlic cloves against dandruff and loss of hair but with scarce results. Meanwhile, other important tasks waited for the garlic in the magical field. All over Europe, and not only, people believed that the plant was a powerful remedy against all kinds of adversities and literature is filled up with stories about the protecting properties against all evil, vampires, witches and the devil included. Sailors used to smear garlic juice under their armpits, on their chests and under their soles; children were equipped with garlic cloves which also found a place on windowsills; often, entire garlic heads were pending on strings from the kitchen ceilings. Garlic is packed with an impressive number of healthy substances such as the vitamins C, B1, B2, as well as in calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, zinc and much more so that everybody, including the garlic haters and the small minority I belong to, should take into serious consideration a regular use of this fantastic plant. Authentic garlic fans would never try to neutralize the scent of their beloved panacea but usually they are willing to share hints to by-pass the bad breath. Mostly they chew coffee-beans, cloves, or an aromatic herb, some suggest to drink a generous quantity of red wine or milk. After all, garlic seems to be a must in the Mediterranean kitchen and the health benefits are out of question. So, why not give it another chance? If you want to grow your own garlic it is sufficient to plant possibly untreated single cloves in well drained, fairly rich, light and sandy soil.  If you accept the old Greece and Romans advice, plant the cloves end December/beginning January and crop around Midsummer (Saint John’s Day), with decreasing moon. This garlic is perfect for magical purposes (any other will, of course, do, too) like the following one:

Traditional protection spell

Take a whole garlic head and say the following sentence: “Like this garlic head is  whole but at the same time formed by many cloves, my house, too, is whole but consists of many parts”. Now divide  the cloves and place one over each door and window of your house. The evil spirits will not enter and bring negativity into your home.

Less superstitious and more practical readers will prefer this recipe:

Insecticides for plants

6 tablespoons of minced garlic/1 tablespoon of olive oil/1 cup of water/1 teaspoon of curd soap (Marseille soap)

Mix garlic and olive oil and leave in infusion for twenty-four hours. Dissolve the curd soap in the water and add to the oil. Mix well, filter and transfer into a glass container.

Directions for use: blend two spoonfuls of this preparation with three cups of water, transfer into a vaporizer and spray over the infected plants. Repeat, if necessary.

Anneliese Rabl …. finding a life in Tuscany

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • FriendFeed
  • Google Buzz
  • MySpace
This entry was posted in Herbs, Recipes, Spring. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Spotlight on Italian herbs: Garlic

  1. admin says:

    Thanks. There’s is some more to come.

  2. Thanks for some great information reagrding this

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>