Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hey, Bill. What's a "clove" of Garlic?

Image: Wikipedia

The women of our church are presently engaged in preparing for this Saturday's Valentine's Day Dinner. This event has become a staple in our list of annual fund-raising activities. Since it's inception about 7 years ago, the dinner has had an Italian theme: a variety of pasta dishes, salad, toasted garlic bread, and a number of wickedly rich desserts.

All this activity called to mind the first time I ever used garlic. I don't recall that my mother or father ever used garlic in any of the food they prepared while I was living at home. I didn't even know what pizza was until I married and moved away from home.

Anyway -- to the story.

At the time, my husband and I lived in an north Arkansas town where one of the major social events of the year was the Annual Spaghetti Supper hosted by the ladies of the local Episcopal church. The recipe for the spaghetti sauce was a closely guarded secret, and it was delicious! My next door neighbor, a local restaurant owner, declared that he could wheedle the recipe out of one of the Episcopal ladies... and he did! She dutifully pared down the ingredient quantities and presented him with a written recipe.

We had a small but close group of friends: the restauranteur and his wife, who lived next door to us, and two males who ran the most successful hairdressing establishment in town. We set aside a Sunday morning to prepare the sauce and scheduled our own spaghetti supper for that evening. Neighbor Bill said he would purchase all the ingredients required.

And so the six of us gathered on the designated morning in Bill's kitchen, each of us preparing one of the ingredients for the sauce. However, when we got to the garlic in the recipe, we had to admit that none of us had ever used garlic. The recipe called for two cloves of garlic. What's a "clove" of garlic, Bill? No idea! The recipe called for two, and he had purchased two garlics, which looked like a small onion divided into parts. We decided that we'd just use all of it. Yep! Two heads of garlic went into the sauce.

The sauce bubbled and simmered on Bill's stove all day. It smelled divine! We could hardly wait for supper time to come. At last, the pasta was cooked, the salad prepared, the wine poured and we sat down to our own version of the Episcopal ladies' spaghetti.

It was marvelous! It was delicious! It was the very best spaghetti sauce I have ever eaten in my life (still, to this day.) We were very pleased with ourselves, and probably had double helpings.

Jump forward in time now, faithful readers, to the following Wednesday.

At the time of this story, I was working as a bank teller, and since I was an experienced teller, I also was training a new employee, a very sweet woman from Georgia, who shall come back into the story in a moment. Neighbor Bill was in the habit of bringing the restaurant deposits to the bank on Wednesdays, and generally came to my teller window. When he came in on this Wednesday, he leaned into the opening and whispered "Pat, smell my breath," and puffed a little air towards me. "Do you smell any garlic? The waitresses say I stink like garlic!" I sniffed at the air and replied "No, Bill, I don't smell any garlic."

At this point, my teller trainee, who had overheard this exchange, had cracked up with laughter. As I turned to her she said in her soft Georgia drawl "Honeh, it's been awl I could due to stay in the winda with you. You defintly smell lack an Eye-talian."

It took several more days for the smell of garlic to leave our persons. After I had regained my normal sense of smell, I realized that a wool dress I had worn during the time when garlic oils were still seeping through my skin could never be worn again. Even dry cleaning couldn't remove the odor.

I still like garlic, a lot, but have learned to use it in moderation, lest I inadvertently drive those with sensitive noses into fits.

Maybe I should move to Italy.


Rottlady of the Ozarks said...

Ha Ha such a funny story! It reminds me of one I could tell on myself. Just suffice to say, don't take too many garlic pills even if you do want a natural bug repellent!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

I love garlic too---and when either George nor I eat it, we make sure that BOTH of us eat it. I cannot stand to smell it on someone's breath. YUK!!!

Same with onions--but I think the smell of garlic on someone's breath is worse.

Funny story about using too much garlic!!!!


jinksy said...

Reminds me of a wartime story when my Gran's house had several of her grown up daughters around, and three of them managed to add salt to the potatoes boiling on the stove, as each assumed the others had forgotten. As Gran had already added salt, the result was gross and inedible!

Patty said...

Now you could wear that dress around me, I've lost my sense of smell, and a lot of my sense of taste. So unless it's highly seasoned, I sometimes don't know for sure what I am eating. My family doctor said I should lose weight and I said why, he said well you can't taste it, and I said, but I keep telling myself, the next bite I will. I can distinguish sweet, sour, bitter, spicy and salty. If I was blind folded and you cut a piece of cooked chicken or a piece of pork into a cube, and asked me which was which, I doubt I could tell you. If the texture feels pretty much the same. I to love garlic, but if I eat it too often too close together, my stomach (where the food goes) feels sore and I will even feel a little nausea. Onions will also do that, at times, has done this every since my gall bladder was removed when I was 21.

I suppose that's why I like Kung Pao Chicken and Hot Sour Soup, spicy and garlicky.

rhymeswithplague said...

Anybody who would serve garlic bread on Valentine's Day is definitely of the devil. :)

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

Everyone at the dinner eats garlic bread, so there are no problems. Besides, a bit of garlicy breath puts the quietus on any "kissing around" that might be contemplated, and also prevents vampire visits.

Hilary said...

I'll bet you were virus-free for a while after that. Partly because garlic is really good for your immune system and partly because nobody would get close enough to you to infect you with anything.

I love garlic too. Funny how it never tastes like too much. :) Wonderful story, Pat.

MindyLew said...

I could only imagine what the smell was like - I love garlic but not 2 cloves of it - LOL. At least you all did not have to worry about catching any colds for a while huh?? Thanks for sharing a wonderful memory.

Carolina said...

If ever I will be pursuaded to leave my atheist believes (which is somewhat of a contradictio in terminis), remind me to become a 'follower' of your church. I'd love these dinners. And I love garlic. My mother-in-law used to put whole bulbs instead of cloves into whatever she cooked, which affected her social life in a big way, until someone explained the garlic-clove-concept to her ;-) Loved your story, big smile!

Snap said...

Great story, Pat! I love garlic,but not that much!


Anna said...

Are you serious about the dress?? You couldn't wear it again? WOW! One day I crushed a clove and put it on a bagel as part of my defense against a sinus infection...when I picked my daughter up at a friend's that evening she opened the back hatch of the Tahoe to toss in her bags - many feet behind the driver's seat - and said, "Garlic, huh?"

Louise said...

When I first got married I went through the same thing, except that I realized it COULDN'T mean two heads! I didn't know what a clove was, and neither did anyone I called. I put in extra for good measure, and my husband and I think that every recipe that calls for garlic needs the garlic content at least doubled--up to quadrupled depending on how cooked it is!

GREAT story! Throwing out the wool dress is the best part. (Probably not at the time, however.)

Rose said...

Oh Pat, sitting here with tears in my eyes. Wonderful story.

Mel said...

Priceless! And while I truly DID love the story I found my mind continuing to wander back to the menu at this weekend's Valentine's Day supper. If the entree wasn't enough to grab me, the promise of wickedly rich desserts...well...I'm going to go bake something. ;)

Thanks for dropping by...come back anytime!

JC said...

Great funny story. Thanks

And great boot pic and sky watch pic.