Exploring a new herb and an old standby

Moving deeper into my studies on herbs and aromatherapy I’ve learned a few things. 1) It may have taken nearly half a century, but I think I found something I’m very passionate about and 2) My plans to be the star student and teacher’s pet pretty much ended with the C- I received last week on my exam.

Sigh… You can’t have it all, so I’m happy enough with finding something I love. Take for example an assignment I did this week to explore the characteristics of two herbs, Organic Garlic (minced) Allium sativum and Organic Cleavers Galium aparine.  If you are like me, you haven’t heard of cleavers much. But I was pleasantly surprised by it’s subtle flavor that married well with my husband’s steady choices of Italian herbs for our food.

But garlic, well, that’s the Lion of my husband’s jungle. He uses it in everything… and I’m not exaggerating. But only now am I beginning to discover that my husband has infused my life with the life-giving wonders of this super herb.

I explored a bit of minced garlic to become more intensely familiar with it. The bulb has been minced. Color ranged from a light cream to a darker cream color. The texture is hard, like it has been freeze-dried. When I poured the sample from the package it fell out easily with no clumping or sticking together. I had to make sure to contain it on the towel as it easily could escape since nothing was binding it together. As I ran my fingers through the garlic I could smell a stronger smell of the garlic, and it left the scent lingering on my fingers. The sample resembled the clove of the garlic just after mincing, though it didn’t have the moistness found in the fresh garlic.

The minced garlic is hard, almost like very fine pebbles. As I ran it through my fingers it stayed whole.  It appeared hard to break down any further. It wanted to run freely across my towel making it hard to contain in a small teaspoon area of the towel.

The garlic is a very strong odor. It is pronounced, and does not leave your senses. The scent lingers on my fingers, and I find myself having to wash my hands prior to smelling my second herb. There is no masking the odor of garlic. It’s distinct and you know it as soon as your nose takes the first sniff.

Even blindfolded you can not deny that it is garlic that you are smelling. My memory of the scent of garlic drifts back to the time in my 20s when I lived in the Bay Area. I used to travel about 30 miles from my home in San Jose each year for the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival. You could smell the garlic from the freeway long before you arrived to the festival. There you could enjoy such delicacies as garlic ice cream. Eating so much garlic throughout the day it would seem that garlic would escape out of my pores.

I bit down onto the minced Garlic and tasted it’s very strong, pungent familiar garlic taste. I noticed that in seconds just after biting down that it is spicy, like biting into a very hot chili. This happened for just a split-second and then that taste was gone. One thing that I noticed very quickly after swallowing the garlic sample was that my sinuses seemed to clear up quickly. I also noticed the bitterness of my breath. It made me want to go brush my teeth right away. The familiar garlic taste lingers on my tongue, hours after tasting.

I decided to make some homemade kale chips using the garlic as the main spice for this recipe. It satisfied my quest for something salty, flavorful and crunchy for a snack.

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Becoming so familiar with this most familiar herb enhanced my appreciation for it. I spent some time studying its benefits and was amazed at it’s reputation as the “cure all” of herbs.

For example, garlic is believed to help with blood pressure regulation, infections, colds and more. If you use it every day it will keep your nose and lungs clear of mucus and your arteries in good condition, having a positive effect on both high-blood pressure and cholesterol. It might even protect the body from the effects of harmful chemicals due to its high sulfur content.

If that’s not enough, here’s another cool thing to know. You can eat garlic to help you with any condition with “itis” tacked on to it. It’s rich in nutrients and can even help with bites, stings and pimples when used topically (just don’t leave it on, just wipe and remove!).

Who knew? Maybe my husband’s Nonie, who taught him to use it in everything he cooks. She keeps giving to this family despite leaving us a few years ago.

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