Garlic is a member of the perennial plant and is closely related to the onion, shallot and leek plants. Garlic tends to only have one leaf base unlike onions that have many. Sometimes, it is possible to eat the above portions of the plant, especially when it is soft and tender.
When eaten raw, garlic tends to have a sharp, hot taste and it filters out when it is cooked. It is one vegetable that has a strong odor, possibly one of the strongest amongst the vegetables.
The origin of garlic is not well known because it has been cultivated worldwide. It does not have seeds and therefore is grown from bulbs. A garlic head is fairly large and is composed on many bulbs displaying a white or purple color. The leaves of the plant tend to be fairly thin and long with many cloves living inside. The strong, sharp flavor comes from when the plant cells are damaged which is similar to how the onion gets its flavor. The result is a strong flavor, which has an element of hotness about it. It is the most potent of the perennial plant, more so that shallots, onions and leeks. The taste that many people enjoy and are so familiar with is thought to have come from one of the plant’s defensive mechanisms to deter insects and bugs.
Sulfur compounds also contribute largely to the smell and taste of garlic. The spiciness of the plant is due to the amount of allicin that is present in the bulb and when it is cooked, the allicin is removed thus making it less hot.
Garlic is mostly known as a condiment or seasoning for food. Garlic is also cultivated for making oil and is often mixed with herbs and other spices to create garlic oil. This is often used to make pizzas. It is important to refrigerate and use the oil within one week to reduce the risk of botulism. One may slightly smell of garlic if he or she has consumed it and it shows in ones sweat and breath. This can be corrected through eating fresh parsley. Medicinally, garlic is said to help blood sugar levels stabilize and can therefore be helpful to diabetes. The allicin is what is the effective aid in this type of treatment so it is important to eat it fresh or raw.
Garlic supplementation in the form of pills have been popular in recent years as they harvest all the goodness of garlic itself without the unpleasant smell it can leave you with in your mouth and sweat.
Garlic has always been used in cooking. From early Lebanese salads where it would be used abundantly. Spiritually, it has been an ancient tradition to ward off evil spirits with garlic. This may be due to the strong odor it produces. The cloves can be used as an antidote to certain infections, digestive problems and fungal infections. It is also good for the heart reducing excess levels of cholesterol.
It has been and always will be a popular condiment to cooking and many cultures around the world use garlic is some type of instance in their dishes to give them a strong powerful flavor. It is a relatively cheap and easy to grow spice and is cultivated all around the world.