The Amazing Health Benefits of Garlic
and some surprising insights into this mysterious pod

“My final, considered judgment is that the hardy bulb blesses and ennobles everything it touches - with the possible exception of ice cream and pie." -Angelo Pellegrini

Yes, Jews use Garlic!

In fact, no discussion of food-especially one influenced by Sephardic cooking, would be complete without a tribute to garlic. I begin many a cooking session standing n the kitchen, peeling an entire head of garlic, imagining the dishes I will be concocting that day. Separating clove from head, paper sheath from the flesh inside, I marvel at this beloved and reviled crescent that has captured minds of cooks, scientists and the superstitious.

Anecdotes of health, sorcery, poison and passion abound around these pods. My grandmother stuffed the corners of her drawers with garlic to ward off the evil eye. A baby boy is accompanied with decorated garlic cloves to his pidyon ha ben, as a segula, for sharing in the feast. The erev rav's complaint that the maan did not taste like garlic, brought a plague to the generation of the desert. Ironically, garlic was reputed to be highly effective against the plague of Black Death in the Middle Ages.

Garlic: a cure for cancer??

While more large-scale research studies are needed to determine the exact nature of garlic's benefits, this food can definitely be considered an ally in heart health. For centuries it has been touted for its antibiotic attributes. It has showed success in combination with traditional medicine for the treatment of many cancers.

How to Cook With Garlic

The raw pods release pungent aroma when mashed, chopped or sliced. Their flavor in easily distinguished when used as an ingredient in salad dressings, dips and marinades. They add a subtle depth when cooked, roasted in the oven, tossed into soups and sauces, chopped into the pan with sautéing vegetables. Garlic powder lends a flavor to savory dishes that cannot be duplicated or replaced by any other condiment in our spice cabinet.

Recipes which call for fresh garlic will always taste best when the cook chops her own. Whole, peeled cloves available in the refrigerator section of many grocers, are a real times saver and I often use them when holiday food marathons come around. Purchased pre-chopped garlic has an off taste, and will rarely yield the flavor of fresh.

How is a Jew Like a Clove of Garlic?

Garlic has a complex flavor, a mysterious history and surprising medicinal value. Yet its essential message to us is plain to see; Hashem planted greatness in its simplicity. This humble bulb has never been praised for its beauty. It requires little attention as it is easily cultivated, growing beneath the ground and reproducing on its own. It does not demand a high price nor is it rare. However, garlic, like the beloved Nation of Israel, has its imprint on almost every culture, healing and enhancing civilization for 5000 years.

The Best Kosher Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic recipe here!

And you'll enjoy my cooking video that shows you how to cook with garlic here.


Cooking for The King by Renee Chernin
The book of Torah insights, recipes and practical tips
designed to bring majesty to the mundane.