All hail king garlic

Roasted garlic

Most cooks today wouldn’t want to be caught without garlic in their pantry. But for decades, the “stinking rose” was persona non grata, at least in much of the UK. The Guardian looks at the changes that restored garlic’s place among the pantheon of flavorings in British kitchens.

For a time in the Victorian era when French food was seen as the height of sophistication, garlic was popular. But after the Second World War, it fell out of favour, which food historian Ivan Day attributes to garlic being “seen as ‘foreign muck’ by the generation of men and women living off bully beef and reconstituted egg.” Says Day, “they got a taste for simplicity.” 

There is nary a mention of garlic in most British cookbooks of the 1950s, and it wasn’t until a decade later that hints of it starting showing up in restaurants. Garlic’s climb to back to the top of the culinary ladder was a long slog through the 1970s and 80s, when Natasha Edwards’ family started a garlic farm on the Isle of Wight.  “We started the farm when garlic wasn’t that popular,” she recalls. “None of my friends knew what it was and those who did thought it was foreign and gave you bad breath.”

Garlic’s come a long way since then. Fergus Henderson notes while people used to complain about smelling like garlic, “now, the musk of garlic on the breath is the musk of a good lunch.”

Photo of Roasted garlic from The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon


Post a comment

One Comment

  • nicolepellegrini  on  April 22, 2015

    Well, good to know as a personal warning next time I visit the UK! I'm one of those unfortunates actually affected by a garlic intolerance – I can only eat it when well sauteed to transform the garlic oils; raw or only roasted garlic means days of pain for me.

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!