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Why is garlic bread such a problem child?

Why is the garlic bread in your head *so much better* than the garlic bread any restaurant ever serves? My guesses: first of all, we're talking Ital-Amer red-sauce joints, which at their best are heart-swelling ideals, the very picture of all that is good and comfy in the world, but tend far more often to be at their worst. Second, relatedly, I assume garlic bread is an afterthought, a boring given that prep cooks sort of get out of the way early on to then reheat.

But that would be stupid, because the truth is garlic bread is everybody's secret favorite part of the meal. (OK, I'm projecting, but bear with me.) So it should be treated with extra respect.

Anyone else have theories?

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  1. i haven't seen garlic bread in any kind of restaurant in Years.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ScubaSteve

      I am third generation 100 % Italian and the entire time growing up my family never had garlic bread with meals. We would have bread an butter with some meals but never garlic bread.

    2. My theory:
      So many ppl are lacking grey matter these days that they think margarine is food, and garlic salt has some redeeming quality.
      Crusty bread, butter, garlic. Is there some kind of mystery I'm not getting here? Don't answer that. I don't want to know. I find it really funny how when someone tastes food that I've made out of real ingredients, it's like they've never had food before in their life.

      Ravioli does not come from a can.
      Macaroni and cheese does not get its flavor from a foil packet of powder
      Marinara sauce does not have more hfcs than tomatoes
      Salad dressings are not made primarily of sugar
      Hamburgers are made COMPLETELY from ground beef, not made WITH ground beef.
      Cheese is not orange and made from vegetable oil and salt.

      5 Replies
      1. re: gordeaux

        I would agree with all of these EXCEPT hamburgers can gave all sorts of things in them plus something to absorb fat.

        1. re: Paulustrious

          Somebody on the Boston (?) board posted on a hamburger served on, essentially, garlic bread. It's shot to the top of my must-try-at-home list. Theirs used roasted garlic but I think I'll go with slowly simmered chopped garlic in butter/oil.

          1. re: Aromatherapy

            Hi Aromatherapy! Hope you're well. Let me know if you pull this off.

            1. re: Aromatherapy

              That's so obvious and simple, it's amazing that it's not more popular: sandwiches made with garlic bread!

              1. re: Humbucker

                didn't subway start serving garlic butter on their toasted subs about a year ago? I know they don't do it anymore, sadly.

        2. Really good garlic bread can be labor intensive (at least the kind I make) but my local Italian restaurant has really good garlic bread, just different than I make.

          1. Good garlic bread requires good ingredients. Too many restaurants buy pre-packaged "garlic butter" or use garlic salt & butter instead of fresh garlic and unsalted butter.

            1. Because good garlic bread is hard to define? Other than there being garlic and bread, the variables are many. I love butter, but Ina Garten did a version with olive oil that looked amazing. Salt or no? How much fat (oil/butter/whatever)? What's the ratio of bread to garlic? So many differences ...

              In my head, good garlic bread is crunchy, somewhat greasy but not overly so, intense caramelized garlic flavour. And yet, I've had good garlic bread that follows none of those qualities and bad garlic bread that follows all of these qualities. I've sat down to a meal with people who thought the bread we were served were perfect and some of the party thought it was mediocre.

              No accounting for taste ...

              1. Slice good crusty bread.
                Toast it.
                Cut a clove of garlic in two.
                Rub it on bread. Rub rub rub unti the clove is gone.

                Yup, that pretty much does it for me. Did I forget anything?

                2 Replies
                1. re: bkhuna

                  Growing up, "Hungarian Garlic Bread" was as follows:

                  Sliced Rye Bread.
                  Pan Fry in hot oil until golden brown
                  Cut a clove of garlic
                  Rub rub rub until clove is gone
                  Sprinkle salt.

                  I think the deep-fry gave it a little extra 'zing' of yummy.

                  1. re: JugglerDave

                    Um, I was talking about Ital-Amer style, but the thought of doing it with rye bread just made me happier than I've been in a while. How sweet is that! Thx. for the idea!

                2. pg's garlic bread (remembering I am an Aussie,so your ItalAmer red sauce reference means jack to me.. but I am all over a good garlic bread!)

                  take a whole head of garlic.
                  Squeeze out cloves and mash with unsalted butter.
                  Take a good sized baguette/french stick (I like to use long rolls from our local Viet bakery) and cut 1 inch slices (not severing the whole way)
                  spread lots and lots of yummy garlic butter between slices.
                  wrap in foil and pop in oven 15 mins before serving roast chicken.

                  Use warm slices of oily garlicky bready goodness to slurp up pieces of roast chook and scoff.

                  **insert sounds of heavenly choir**

                  1. It takes less than 2 minutes to slice half a baguette, crush a clove or 2 of garlic, butter up, and finish with coarse romano in the toaster oven. I don't trust restaurants to do garlic bread right. Try it for a tuna sandwich with romaine; it makes a symphony from a rag-time band.
                    In Denver, one must buy french bread in the morning and get it home into Zip-locks by noon, because the air is so dry that bread is stale by dinner otherwise.