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This month, make friends with garlic

Garlic has been revered as an offering fit for the gods and despised as a substance only to be fed to hogs. Believed to be a native of central and south Asia or southwestern Siberia, it has been used for over 5,000 years as food, medicine, an aphrodisiac, money and magic potion. It’s one of the oldest cultivated plants and is considered both a vegetable and an herb.

From its discovery, garlic had a long and unusual journey before it reached today’s gourmet use. It was worshiped by Egyptians as a god and used as local currency. Other cultures deemed garlic too pungent for religious institutions. By the time the crusaders brought garlic back to Europe, the lower classes were using it as food but not the upper class. In England garlic breath was considered entirely unsuitable for refined young ladies and the gentlemen who wished to court them. It’s an attitude later adopted and embraced in this country.

Spanish, French and Portuguese settlers introduced garlic into the Americas. By...

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