The Stinking Rose, by any other name….would still be my darling garlic. You can have parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme; I finally have come to realize that garlic is a true love of mine. I’ve long suspected this, ever since my Caesar Salad epiphany at the Drake Hotel in Chicago many years ago. It was prepared tableside in classic fashion on a gueridon, asking the waitron for (yes!) extra garlic and an extra egg yolk to make that ephemeral dressing more gooey. I also asked for the equivalent of one TABLESPOON of fresh-cracked pepper to bolster it even further. A literal explosion of flavor and sensation, the garlic and pepper almost burning my palate, but in such a good way!
The next day, you could literally hear the garlic oozing out of my pores. To stand within a foot of me was to introduce yourself to a body scent of a most striking kind, and not entirely unpleasant depending on your culinary bent and possibly your heritage. I’ve often wondered since then if there is such a thing as garlic overdose, so I’m going to conduct an experiment this week. First, I’m going to do my own Dirty Jack Caesar Salad for dinner tonight. Then I intend to construct a favorite sandwich using an ultra-heavy garlic aioli and thinly shaved garlic with the onion. Finally, I shall make my White Heat Pizza using nothing but garlic, olive oil with a little tomato paste and basil, parmesan and habanero peppers. All totaled, I estimate all of this to take between 15 and 20 cloves of The Stinking Rose. You may ask, why would I subject myself to so much garlic in a short amount of time? How will my body react? Will my wife finally break after nearly 20 years of bending to my cooking whims and speed-dial her attorney?
I haven’t had that much garlic lately and I can feel it. Simple. And I know only too well, the health benefits of garlic rest on the production of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas. Our red blood cells can take sulfur-containing molecules in garlic (called polysulfides) and use them to produce H2S. This H2S in turn can help our blood vessels expand and keep our blood pressure in check. I’ve noticed a little increase in my BP in the past year, and I know I could help it by adding garlic back into my diet on a regular basis. It’s also a natural blood thinner and it’s been known to eat away at our bad LDL cholesterol. There is literally nothing bad about garlic, even with that legendary stink that is oh so sweet to me.
So there it is. On my next blog, coming within this week, I’ll share my Dirty Jack Caesar recipe with you, as well as my scratch pizza dough that is one of the simplest and best things I make. Until then……go eat something! -Dirty Jack