British Garlic

pesto.  Likewise, when making Babaganoush, the garlic slices are roasted with the aubergine rather than added raw.  The Southern American condiment of Chimichurri, which accompanies meats, especially steak, also includes plenty of chopped parsley and, it should be noted, is also left to infuse for several hours, like a marinade, which may in itself tame some of the rawness.

Then there is the Italian habit of bruising a clove of raw garlic by rubbing it over a slice of tasted bread.  Even then the taste is quite pungent, which is fine if you want it to be the dominant flavour but less so if you are topping the toast with other ingredients, such as chopped tomato and basil.  For this sort of thing I prefer to use garlic infused oil.  You can make your own, although you need to remember to do so several hours in advance.  Finely slice a peeled clove of garlic into a pan of olive oil and heat very gently.  The garlic may be allowed to brown lightly before being left to infuse but on no account should it turn darker than this as burnt garlic has a very acrid flavour and is the reason why it is always added to onions in the final minute of their cooking rather than at the beginning.

I was given a bottle of Lunaio garlic infused olive oil and since that first bottle I can’t bear to be without it in my store cupboard.  The infusion is done at ambient temperature over several days so that it doesn’t affect the quality of the cold-pressed olive oil.  The flavour of garlic is quite intense although not harsh, so that often I can mix just a couple of tablespoonfuls with other olive oil.  This is what I do with hummous and other dips.  You can taste and adjust to the strength you desire.  Ideal.

Black Garlic is a fairly recent ingredient in the UK, which can be used without fear of overdoing it.  In fact, its lack of pungency means that you can eat whole cloves without fear.  Black Garlic is aged until it becomes so sweet it has been likened to Balsamic vinegar.  It doesn’t cook down like a normal clove of garlic so needs to be chopped quite finely to disperse it throughout a dish.

The fact that you can eat whole cloves of Black Garlic as a snack makes it an ideal way of enjoying the health benefits of garlic without the smell, although you can also buy odourless capsules if you want to take it for health.  So, what are the health benefits?  The list is varied and impressive, including curing warts, protecting against MRSA and food poisoning, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.  It was first suggested to me whilst suffering from a stubborn chesty cough for its decongestant properties (which are similar to those found in any of the allium family).  That is can also act as a decongestant for the blood by lowering cholesterol is, in my view, a better option than putting everyone over the age of 50 on statins.  Of course, I am not qualified to comment on the use of garlic in health, but it may be something you want to explore further.

Yes, garlic certainly seems to be firmly embedded in today’s British food culture, albeit with a lighter hand than is used in other parts of the world.

Useful websites for further information:



Chimichurri Recipe

This is my preferred proportions but feel free to adjust to your own taste.  There is no one authentic recipe for Chimichurri.


2 large cloves of garlic

Teaspoon of coarse sea salt

3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley

1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano

2 tbsps red wine vinegar

4 tbsps olive oil


Finely chop the garlic then sprinkle with sea salt and crush with the flattened blade of a large knife (or you could do this with a pestle and mortar). Transfer the garlic to a bowl containing the red wine vinegar and whisk in the olive oil.  Stir in the freshly chopped herbs and leave to infuse for at least 2 hours before serving over grilled meat.


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