“We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic . . .” (Numbers 11:6)
The Greeks and Romans also recognized the value of garlic, not just as a source of fuel for their laborers and soldiers, but for its medicinal qualities. In his 37-book encyclopedia of natural sciences, Historia Naturalis, Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD) listed 23 different ailments that garlic could be used to treat, including infection, a condition which modern research has shown garlic to be effective against.
After the fall of Rome, Christian monks became the chief keepers of herbal and medical knowledge, and consequently grew garlic in their monastery gardens along with other plants considered important and useful.
So why the mini-history lesson on garlic? Well, it’s partly my explanation for being absent from blogging for so long. (The other part is due to simple lack of discipline.) For the past couple of months I’ve been writing a little book about garlic which is now . . . drumroll, please . . . FINISHED!
Of course, we Catholics already know how great garlic is. Just check out this statue of St. Lorenzo (Lawrence), the patron saint of cooks. Look at what he’s holding: a gridiron and cloves of garlic! (Legend has it that St. Lawrence suffered martyrdom in the 3rd century by being roasted over a gridiron.)