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Common Name: Garlic

Genus Species: Allium sativum

Family: Alliaceae

Origin: Himilayas, Siberia

Cultivation: Widely around the world

Description: Garlic is the name given to the leek (herb) with gar (spear) shaped leaves. Its Latin name Allium sativum is derived from al = burning, sativum = harvested. The plant may have arisen as a wild variant (“ramson”) in Siberia, but it has spread world-wide, and is harvested in China, India, Gilroy in California, and in many other places. As a food, it was favored by the Hebrews in biblical Egypt, and it is now beloved in both homespun and gourmet cooking everywhere. Garlic has had a long-held reputation as a medicine, and it was regarded by the popular 17th century British herbalist, Culpeper, as the “poor man’s treacle”, implying that it had value as an antidote to poisons and as a panacea for illnesses. Chicago is named after the Indian term for the place where the wild garlic grows. Garlic is so widely grown that it cannot be regarded as an exotic plant. Nevertheless, it is generally thought of as a spice because of its remarkable pungent aroma, and its value for culinary and medical uses. William Harvey published his revolutionary book on the Motion of the Blood in 1628; he was impressed with an issue that still remains a concern: the presence of garlic’s smell on the breath following its consumption. However, Harvey was more impressed that a folk remedy for colds called for garlic in the shoe: the fact that this therapy led to the smell of garlic on the breath was noted by him as additional evidence that the blood circulates in the body. The other well-known connection between garlic and blood was the herb’s traditional property of repelling vampires.

Information courteousy of UCLA Biomedical Library

Recipes that Use Garlic: