There are those who love garlic and those who hate garlic. And then there are vampires, but that's another story.

From an inscription on the Pyramid of Giza we know that the slaves involved in its construction had to consume a head of garlic per day to have the necessary strength; we also know that its widespread diffusion in southern France – the proud home of aïoli sauce – is due to the Roman legion settled in Gaul; in ancient Greece the athletes took it before the races and the soldiers before the battles; during World War II Russian soldiers had garlic cloves in their rucksacks as a wound disinfectant.

One of the oldest and most widespread ingredients, garlic has reigned supreme for centuries in Mediterranean and Italian cuisines, perfuming many delicious dishes. Ideal in sauté and marinades as in some creams and raw and cooked sauces, garlic goes well with everything, meat, fish, vegetables.

European folklore says that garlic keeps away sicknesses and evil influences, in addition to the aforementioned vampires, a legend born curiously for the antiparasitic properties of this Liliacea (since the vampire was seen as a bloodsucker).

But if you are not a vampire and you like this "precious ivory", as the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda called it, here are the most common mistakes to avoid in order to fully enjoy the culinary and healthy benefits of the most fragrant Liliaceae.

1_An improper preparation

First of all, the internal shoot must be eliminated, which makes it difficult to digest. There are different ways to cut the garlic: if you have to use it for dishes where the consistency is important, such as sauces or emulsified condiments, peel it and grate it finely.

In the case of practically garlic-based dishes such as Piedmontese bagna caôda, Genoese pesto, Ligurian agliata, Provencal aïoli, Greek skordalia (a cream of potatoes and garlic served as meze) and tzatziki (sauce of cucumbers and yogurt), the best procedure is to crush the peeled garlic in the mortar reducing it to a cream: it will preserve the flavor losing the pungent tone.

If you need to use it to sauté mushrooms or boiled vegetables, and you want it to definitely taste it, peel a clove and chop it or reduce it to a fine julienne.

If you want to "steal" its aroma but not the strong flavor, peel a clove and mash it with the flat blade of the knife; brown it quickly in the oil without darkening it and eliminate it before adding other ingredients. In the case of roasts or slow cooking, leave it in the pan as well, once it is well cooked it will lose its typical bitterness. The most sensitive ones to its taste but who do not want to give up a touch of inimitable flavor, before cooking can rub the sides of the pan with a peeled slice, whole or cut in half, without inserting it into the recipe.

2_Add garlic to the dishes too early

tomato-sauce

Garlic burns easily, especially when chopped or sliced ​​(small foods cook very quickly), and burned garlic can ruin a dish. In the case of fried foods, place it in the pan halfway through the recipe – not before; fried vegetables will slow down cooking. If you are cooking a dish with a thick and creamy consistency, like a pasta sauce, you can add the peeled garlic in the hot oil, brown it slightly to flavor it and then quickly pour over the liquid/creamy element to reduce the temperature in the pan and prevent the garlic from burning.

3_ Cook garlic at too high temperature

garlic chicken

As mentioned in point 2, burnt garlic spoils the dish. It is always better to add it to lower temperatures and eventually raise the temperature after, little by little. If you use garlic only for browning, leave it "poached", that is with the peel, it will burn less quickly. If you start with a too hot pan, in a very short time the garlic will become dark and crunchy – bitter and not edible. If you prepare the roasted garlic (a whole head of garlic is cut in half, rubbed with oil and wrapped in aluminum for food, to then be baked in the oven: the garlic will become sweet, creamy and spreadable) keep the oven temperature below 180-190 ° or the outer edges will burn before the heart has time to soften.

4_Use pre-cut garlic

Once cut, garlic quickly loses its aroma and flavor: so use whole cloves, even better if fresh and not dried (fresh garlic is found from late May to late July: white varieties are preserved for 6-8 months, those pink ones up to a year). Before using the garlic, check that the bulbs are firm and, above all, without buds, because if not well preserved garlic develops an unpleasant smell. Store dry garlic in a cool, dry, dark and well-ventilated area. On the market there are special containers with holes, to keep them at their best.

Garlic powder is a completely different thing: it is useful for preparing batter for fried foods, or a mix of aromas to dry marinate meat and fish and some sauces and gravies. And garlic powder is also very practical because it lasts a long time and you can forget it in the pantry: even at the last moment it will be ready for use.

5_When it is better to use it and when not

For Marcel Boulestin, a French gastronomist, "It is no exaggeration to say that peace and happiness begin, geographically, where garlic is used for food preparation".

We can say that there are categories of foods and cooking in which the garlic results

Indispensable: in all dishes of popular origin such as fish soups, molluscs and seafood such as marinara mussels, stews, stuffed lamb, with poultry and meatloaf, always with the suggestion to use it whole and remove it before serving; or rubbed on bruschettas, and in pesto and scapece dishes.

Pleasant, but not really indispensable: with "sautéed" dishes such as mushrooms or kidney, in stews, in pasta or rice sauces. With eggplants, green beans, chickpeas, artichokes, turnip greens, cabbage, fresh cherry tomatoes, pork. With bread and focaccia, to perfume oil.

Acceptable in marinades in red wine for game.

Prohibited where there is lemon and in boiled dishes; no with peas, lentils, asparagus, pumpkin, radicchio, risotto, dishes with cream. And in the amatriciana.

If you can not renounce to a garlic, oil and chili peppers spaghetti even on a gallant evening, at the end of dinner, chew a couple of coffee beans or fresh mint leaves. Researchers also suggest drinking a cup of green tea (or mint tea), a lemonade or even a glass of whole milk

Or eat the same pasta both (at the same time you will make sure your dining companion is not a vampire).