Today I attended my first ever Garlic Festival. It has been held annually since 2011 to celebrate Ontario’s garlic harvest. Apparently the coming of autumn is not just for pumpkins and apples anymore!
A five dollar admission will get you through the gate where you can sample any manner of sweet and savoury goods that employ garlic. There are also talks, demos and fun activities like the garlic breath contest. Surprisingly I didn’t find the event nearly as fragrant as one would expect of this type of festival. My personal highlights included the chocolate caramel skull made with black garlic by chocolate artist Laura Slack and the purchase of these goodies:
The types of garlic shown are named by where the seeds originated. I was told the ‘former Yugoslav’ is a sweet and mild garlic while the ‘Persian’ is a pungent and punchy one. I will keep you posted as I dig into these cloves and experiment. The ‘Afghan’ is literally in the middle of these two extremes. Yes everything will soon be coming up stinking roses in my kitchen!
Garlic is a ubiquitous spice in many popular dishes but also has some healing benefits.
hummus, garlic bread, pasta sauce, aioli, soups, stews, curries
Garlic is truly culinary aromatherapy. The sulfur compounds responsible for its characteristic odour are the same compounds that yield health benefits. Research on garlic supplements (i.e. garlic powder, oil and extracts) has found it to be anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial. It also has a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health by helping to lower cholesterol, blood lipids (triglycerides) and blood pressure. It contains notable amounts of vitamin B6 and C as well as the minerals selenium and manganese.
It is preferable to eat garlic raw as this helps preserve its nutrients. If you must cook with it, do so at low heat and/or add the garlic towards the end of the cooking process. To decrease the load on your digestive system, remove the centre stem, especially when it’s green. This is an indigestible part of garlic. Finely chopped garlic, left to rest temporarily before being added to your dish, is said to be the most potent health-wise.
Cloves of garlic wisdom:
- Apparently it wards off vampires as well as colds.
- Garlic is part of the allium family, a group of flowering plants. Other members are onions and leeks.
- Allicin is considered by some the magic component of garlic; however, allicin is only one of many beneficial sulphur-containing compounds in garlic.
- Garlic has been cultivated world-wide for thousands of years. It has been used in ancient Egypt, China and medieval Europe for medicinal purposes.