Garlic Lover’s Delight

Garlic has been used by humans during prehistoric times. Although it was wild garlic, this plant has been harvested and stored for use for several months.  Apparently, remnants of garlic have been found in old cave paintings that are over 10,000 years old.

The Latin name for garlic is Allium sativum. What I find interesting about garlic is that it is rich in minerals, especially sulfur compounds.  It also contains calcium, iron, phosphorous, potassium, riboflavin, and vitamin C.  Garlic is low in sodium, but high in protein and carbohydrates. It has been said that an average sized clove of garlic only has 2 calories.  garlic

I remember my mother always telling me to eat garlic when I had a cold. I am not sure why she said that, except that it would keep people away from me if they did not like garlic. According to medical literature, garlic is believed to lower cholesterol, control high blood pressure, and help prevent cancer.

My favourite way of eating garlic is fresh in a salad. Although I was taught to rub a cut piece of garlic along the inside of a wooden salad bowl, I usually ended up adding the garlic slices to my salad.

Another method of eating garlic is to roast it. If you bought a small unglazed garlic roaster, you can place your cloves of garlic inside it and then roast at 350F for fifteen minutes. The longer you roast your garlic clove, the more roasted it becomes.

One of my favourite ways to eat garlic is to make roasted garlic mashed potatoes.  First you take your garlic and roast it (see about method). At the same time you can be boiling a few potatoes in water until they are soft, which is when a knife can be gently removed from the potato.  Once the potatoes are cooked, I drain the cooking water off, add a few tablespoons of unsalted butter, milk, salt and freshly ground pepper. Some chefs prefer to to add sour cream and/or cream cheese. However, at this point, I simply add to my recipe the roasted cooked garlic. Mash everything together and serve right away. Yum!

Taro

Taro is a plant that requires hard work and patience to grow it to maturity. Many know taro as “poi,” which is a staple food for the Hawaiian people. It is a very nutritious food.

This plant is very starch rich. It is an underground root, known as a “corm,” that is the globular fleshy taproot of aroid family plants. If you do not cook your taro enough, the calcium oxalate in the taro will make your throat uncomfortably itchy. If you use a Chinese taro, which has less oxalates, you will not have such an itchy mouth. A remedy to eating undercooked taro is to rinse you mouth with salt or baking soda solution to eliminate the irritation. The taro corm have special cells that contain bundles of fine needle-like crystals of calcium oxalate called “raphides.” They can cause a stinging sensation in your mouth!

Taro is grown in Asia, Oceania, Africa, and the Caribbean. It is known by many names: Brazil (taioba); China (ya, yu-tao); Columbia (chonque); Cuba (guagui);Dominica Repulic (malanga); Indonesia (taro de Chine, arvi); Japan (imo, sato imo); Malaysia (ta’o, keladi, tallas);  Philippines (gabi, abalong, amalong, dagmay, gablos); Samoa (talo); Spain (tayoba); Tonga (talo, talo Tonga); Vietnam (khoai au nu’octrang, khou-au ku’ou tuiang); West Indies (eddoe, dasheen, cocode Chine, curcas, chou bouton); and Venezuela (danchi, ocumo culin).

The Latin name for taro is in the family of Araceae. There are four basic genera: Colocasia, Xanthosoma, Alocasia, and Cyrtosperna. Taro has been used over many centuries by man.  There are over 300 varieties of taro worldwide, 85 of them grow in Hawaii.

It takes about twelve months to mature and has clusters of large leaves that vary in colour from red to green, to black and variegated. In Hawai’i, the leaves are called lau or lu’au.  One cup of taro leaves contains calcium and a third of the daily allowance of Vitamin A.

I enjoy eating taro ice-cream, not only because it is purple, but because it is very flavourful. It goes great with a bright orange mango ice-cream!