It's about fostering an intimacy with your fields and your vegetables and it's also about appreciating each and every part of what you're growing. Finding a way to use each portion of your vegetables honors them and shows them respect and it’s what we strive to achieve each and every day at The Chef's Garden.
Garlic root is a prime example of this philosophy. The discovery of it happened serendipitously, as so many of the best discoveries do. It occurred one afternoon nearly fifteen years ago when Bob Sr., Lee and his wife Mary were walking through a greenhouse inspecting the plants that were growing there.
The garlic looked ripe and Mary pulled a bulb from the soil. The garlic looked healthy and in its prime but what really caught their attention was the massive root bulb attached to it.
The roots were about a foot long and covered in fertile black soil. Lee washed it off and what emerged were snow white strands that everyone instantaneously knew were the real stars of the show.
Ever since that day so many years ago, chefs purchase our garlic roots for the subtle flavor they impart to their recipes. The flavor is garlic through and through but it's mellower and sweeter than actual garlic and because of this, it can even be served raw as a garnish or tucked into salad for a fresh garlic note.
Chefs also infuse their oils with our garlic roots or sauté them with chicken, fish or other vegetables to add garlic flavor and an unexpected texture to their dishes. We've also seen chefs fry or dehydrate them for a nutty note that is addictively flavorful and whimsical.
Garlic has been used for thousands of years in virtually every corner of the world. Both the bulb and its roots contain allicin which has antifungal and antibiotic properties that can be used to treat bacterial infections and even bee stings. Garlic is also high in magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin C and fiber and has been used throughout history to treat everything from the flu, common cold and even the plague.
Garlic is one of the earliest documented plants and was even found in the Egyptian tomb of King Tutankhamen. A member of the lily family, the first garlic species originated between the Caspian and Black Seas in the Caucasus Mountains. It quickly proliferated, finding its way to India, Greece, China and Europe.
There are biblical references to garlic and it was prescribed as a medicinal plant in tomes from China, India and Ancient Rome. In Ancient Greece it was administered to soldiers and the working class in order to maintain vigor and strength and even courage during wartime. And at the earliest Olympic Games, garlic was consumed by athletes to improve their performances and increase endurance levels.
We think that these ancient soldiers, doctors, athletes and everyday people had it right. We too believe in the myriad health benefits of garlic. But one of the things we love most about it are its winter white roots and the enticing flavor they impart to the recipes of chefs the world over.