My intention was to finish off a blog post about a cool hostel called The Hat, Madrid.
I circled my computer, thinking a coffee might help. So I made one and sipped it, searching my kitchen for inspiration, but found myself mentally listing dull domestic chores that needed doing instead.
Then I chose not to ignore the beautiful string of garlic that has lain in exactly the same careless spot it was placed when we brought it home from Spain last August. Half-housed by a small white plastic bag (a bad way to store garlic), I found the Spanish till receipt crumpled at the bottom. This garlic (ajo) had travelled 1500km all the way from a small town called Lerma (a couple of hours north of Madrid).
The ajo hasn’t been totally forgotten – delicious cloves have been crushed or cut, or roasted whole with chicken, lamb or veg ever since. But today it was time to liberate and show off its rustic, plaited, bulbous magnificence.
The Hat, Madrid was still playing on my mind, so to keep my culinary diversion simple, I’d just roast a whole head of garlic to softly sweeten Saturday’s soup, and to pack a punch with a squirt of lemon juice when added to some supermarket mayonnaise for our salmon supper.
I’d use some Spanish-bought extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of La Dalia Pimentón de la Vera to make it authentically Español (thereby persuading myself that by staying with a Spanish theme, my procrastination should steer me back towards the Madrid hostel blog post).
So in an easy 5 minutes:
And after a relaxed 1 hour:
While it cooked, its slowly caramelising aroma filling the house, I discovered that the indispensable, globally glorious garlic (Allium sativum) has been cultivated and used by humans for thousands of years.
Other random facts (I love wikipedia):
- Garlic is native to central Asia and crops up in both the Bible and the Qur’an.
- China is the world’s largest producer of garlic with a yearly yield of 20,000,000 tonnes (2012).
- It is the second most consumed bulb after the onion.
- Garlic’s medicinal properties are well recognised, and it was used in both World Wars as an antiseptic to prevent gangrene.
- Koreans use an age-old method of heating up heads of garlic over a period of weeks, creating black garlic. Syrupy and sweet, with a taste of balsamic vinegar, it is becoming sought after in kitchens worldwide.
- The best way to store a string of garlic is not in a white plastic bag … a dry, dark place at room temperature and with good air circulation is fine. It might get a little old after about 6 months – perfect time to roast 😉
- Allyl methyl sulphide (AMS) is the culprit that causes bad breath. It is absorbed into the bloodstream when sulphur compounds contained in garlic are metabolised.
Not that I care … I’ve just toasted a bit of bread to spread with my irresistibly soft Spanish roasted garlic – delicioso!
It’s done the trick – I’m feeling inspired … so off to The Hat, Madrid … or perhaps it can wait until after a siesta? Mañana, mañana …