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April 19th National Garlic Day! The United States is the sixth top producer of garlic, with much of its supply coming from Gilroy, California, the self-proclaimed “garlic capital of the world.” But more on that in a minute. Known to some as “the stinking rose,” this herb is Native to central Asia, with a history dating back 6,000 years.
Dubbed the ‘stinking rose’ because of its overpowering taste and smell, garlic is regarded as a force of both good and evil. Ancient Egyptians reportedly fed the herb to workers building the Great Pyramid of Giza because it was believe to boost stamina. Fast forward to the Middle Ages, plague-phobic Europeans ate whole cloves of garlic to fight off the scourge known as the Black Death, which of course, is where the connection to vampires may have been born (you know, bringing all that death and all). Where’s the “evil?” According to some legends, Tibetan monks were forbidden from entering monasteries if they had eaten garlic because of its “reputation for arousing sexual desire.”
A staple of Mediterranean diets, garlic is common to the cuisines of Africa, Asia and Europe. As for top producers, China is actually the world’s biggest producer of garlic. They’re followed by India, South Korea, Egypt and Russia. This brings us back to Gilroy, who isn’t exactly the “garlic capital,” but they DO lay claim to the granddaddy of all American garlic festivals, which happens on the final weekend of July.
The Bottom Line: Fun facts about garlic!
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- Average consumption of garlic per person is believed to weigh in at around two-pounds per person. Even with just two pounds, that means eating roughly 302 cloves per person per year, as each clove typically weighs about three grams.
- An ancient Egyptian medical document - the Ebers Papyrus - counts a stunning 22 different medicinal uses for the plant. Garlic also pops up in texts from Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Chaucer, and Galen, all of which detail its various uses and share lore about the magic plant.
- You can make glue from garlic. The sticky juice that’s in garlic cloves is often used as an adhesive, especially for delicate projects that involve fragile items like glass. You just need to crush the cloves to get to the sticky stuff which, despite its smell, works surprisingly well as a bonding agent for smaller jobs.
- Garlic can fix much of what ails your skin – at least as it relates to cold sores and acne. Just slice cloves in half and applying them directly to the skin. Hold it on for as long as you can stand…and the smell might not be the greatest, the antibacterial properties of the miracle plant will speed along the healing process.
The Bottom Line: April 19th is National Amaretto Day!
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April 19th is National Amaretto Day! If you’ve never had the pleasure, amaretto is a popular Italian liqueur that is a common ingredient in many dishes and beverages. The name "amaretto" means "slightly bitter" and refers to the aftertaste of the drink, which comes from its strong almond flavoring. And get this – it’s not actually from almonds. Not always, at least. The flavor is actually derived from almonds, or apricot kernel oil, burnt sugar, and spices…or both!
Although amaretto didn’t arrive in the United States until the 1960's, it can be traced all the way back to 16thcentury Italy. As legend has it, a painter named Bernadino Luini traveled to Saronno in northern Italy and met a beautiful widow. When he asked her to be the model for one of his paintings she expressed her gratitude by presenting him with the first amaretto drink. And the rest is history!