Saturday, November 10, 2007
The Stinking Rose
Back in 1995 I was visiting Los Angeles and went with my friend Kirk to a restaurant called "The Stinking Rose." As you can guess, the featured ingredient on the menu was garlic, served every which way. I ordered a sandwich called "40-Clove Chicken" and it lived up to the hype. It was tasty, but so garlicky I couldn't finish it. After the meal, we went to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to watch a wonderful production of Porgy and Bess. About three hours later, with mist still in my eyes from the finale, "Oh Lawd, I'm On My Way," I returned with Kirk to his car and the tears welled up again. But this time it wasn't due to Gershwin's music. It was that leftover half a sandwich in the back seat! The car smelled like it was filled to bursting with toxic gas. Sorry, Kirk.
Garlic is supposed to be very healthful, but it does have this one drawback. There's no such thing as anti-oxidant breath, or anti-bacterial breath, or anti-viral breath, but there sure is garlic breath. So how can we get the flavor and health benefits without the stench?
I recently came across an interview with noted raw food guru, David Wolfe. I generally approach his advice with skepticism, but he comes up with some gems now and then. In the interview, Wolfe said that by chopping up cloves of garlic and soaking them in something acidic like vinegar or lemon juice, the smell will be greatly reduced. He suggested that heat/cooking damages the medicinal properties of garlic (what he calls the "immune system chemicals"), but this soaking does not. I have tested his theory and it really works.
So now when I make hummus, for example, I chop and soak a couple of cloves of garlic overnight in the juice of half a lemon, which is also part of the recipe anyway. The result is a hummus that is nicely garlicky but not stinky. Praise de Lawd!