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Most garlicky food ever

Has anyone else ever had this experience? I recently had a wonderful meal of ninniku itame at a Japanese restaurant in a Portland (Ore.) suburb. The dish had been referenced in an alternative weekly guide as a "best deal" for lunch at this particular highly regarded restaurant.

Ninniku itame is beef strips sauteed with garlic sprouts in a tasty sauce of some kind; somehow I fast-forwarded right past the "garlic" when I read the description, ordered the dish and plowed in at the restaurant. It was great; I thought the sprouts were maybe some kind of scallion variety I hadn't encountered before. They had a subtle oniony taste, after all, and I slurped the dish up, sprouts and all. But at home I soon noticed a lingering garlic smell -- and it was me. The smell, which was quite distinct, lasted for 24 hours! (Fortunately, at the time I was living alone.)

Has anyone else encountered a dish that made them smell like garlic, for more than a few hours? Or something else? No need to be graphic, but I'm curious....

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  1. Absolutely! Years ago I worked at a restaurant and we had an annual 'Garlic Party' at someone's home. Everyone had to bring a dish which had garlic as a primary ingredient. The host only supplied wine. We ate very well on garlic soup, garlic bread, garlic fondue, garlic shrimp, garlic beef, roasted garlic, garlic hummus, garlic green beans, and even garlic ice cream. Every year we were fascinated by what people created. And for the next couple days after the party, we always ran garlicky specials at the restaurant to Hide the smell of the staff.

    1 Reply
    1. Well over 15 years ago a client took me and a few other people to the Stinking Rose in San Francisco. It was actually her second visit there that week, she loved it that much. I think I had lasagna and I really don't remember what else. What I DO remember is getting up in the middle of the night to brush my teeth. It felt like the garlic was oozing out of my pores.

      I do love garlic and use it alot but have never suffered from an excess any other time. That includes a dinner party I had years before that, when I (unknowingly) had garlic in everything but dessert: caesar salad (with dressing made from scratch), lasagna (sauce from scratch), garlic bread and in a sauce for asparagus. I was chopping garlic all day as I prepped each dish. I've since learned better menu planning!

      1. Having lived in Seoul for 3 years.... garlic is in most cooked meat dishes. It is frequently eaten raw as a condiment. It is a key component in most kim chee preparations. It defines ubiquitous. Cooked it is not as overwhelming, raw it is rampant. Your breath smells of garlic, your sweat smells of garlic, everything about you becomes permeated. The first week I was there my eyes would be watering when I got off the elevator in the morning. By the second week I was aware of it, but it didn't really bother me most of the time. After a month i was oblivious. Every once in a while a couple of the guys would go out drinking after work, and where ever it was they went, they obviously ate a lot of raw garlic while drinking (not the same guys every time, not the same place either I'm sure.) In those cases even other Koreans looked their way when they walked past. I think there is something about drinking that helped accentuate the smell, just as you can smell alcohol on someone who has been drinking... and the combination could be pretty overwhelming.

        2 Replies
        1. re: KaimukiMan

          Yes - lots of E/SE Asian cooking involves a lot of garlic, and the OP's question would get head-scratching looks from folks who eat such cuisine on a daily basis.

          It is interesting and of note how "garlic tolerance" varies across racial phenotypes, with Western caucasians generally having a low tolerance for it - hence the question in the OP here in the first place.

          I used to eat a lot of garlic myself - 10-12 heads every 2-3 weeks - until in more recent years - and used to hear comments from specific Caucasian co-workers (in a ribbing way) about how I "smelled" especially after I had had a garlic-heavy meal the night before. I don't usually notice the smell myself, as might be expected from a "regular garlic eater", unless I have had a particularly heavy dose of it. :-) [I did have a passive-aggressive "situation" once in my last work place involving a colleague (suspected) who didn't have the balls - or forthrightness - to speak to me about it]

          1. re: huiray

            When saying caucasians, do you also include Latin Americans? They are very sensitive to the smell and taste of garlic with many being absolutely averse to it--I would even say beyond the degree of North Americans (in the US you can find an example like the "Stinking Rose" restaurant--something I'd find unbelievable in Latin America).

        2. once while on antibiotics and after a nice dinner of Gai Yang at the local Thai place I was asked by the SO after brushing and flossing several times to go sleep on the couch. the meds quickly made it seep out of my pores (but dang that yang was yummy)

          otherwise I say bring it on.

          9 Replies
          1. re: hill food

            One of my head chefs was Lebanese and we used to make this sauce that was basically raw garlc, olive oil and lemon juice. It emulsified, and looked deceptively like mayonaise, but it really packed a whallop! Great with fish and chips/fries.

            1. re: pippimac

              love to see the real recipe.. some idea of proportions. sounds great.

                1. re: DuchessNukem

                  I grew up on garlic but I think it tends to linger on some people more than others. My poor mother actually reeked of garlic whenever we made Bagna Cauda (something we do a lot during fall and winter). I never met anyone who smelled it on me after similar consumption. I can eat garlic aioli with impunity but if my mom eats it she is persona non grata for a few days.

                  1. re: DuchessNukem

                    Search for: toum

                    It usually includes a noticeable amount of salt.

                    I don't have proportions, but basically you mince garlic very fine. Put it in a mixer (think Kitchen Aid) and add some olive oil and lemon juice, and salt. I just estimate what "looks good", though you can taste and adjust as you go along.

                    Mix it just short of forever until it has the consistency of whipped egg white.

                    Some people actually put egg white in, but that's abomination.

                  2. re: KaimukiMan

                    I make this all the time to go with grilled lamb or steak, taught by a Lebanese friend exactly this way. Also, I've been told NEVER to stir it in anything but one direction... It's made in a mortar and pestle.

                    Mash a handful of peeled garlic cloves with a couple of pinches of salt to a paste like consistency. Once you've achieved this, begin adding good olive oil, a bit at a time while stirring in one direction only. Keeping making olive oil additions as long as the garlic is puffing up and absorbing it (you'll be amazed at how much it incorporates. Don't let it get soupy. Add fresh squeezed lemon juice, stirring after each addtion until it tastes good and the bitterness is reduced by the lemon.

                    I've been instructed to never cut it with a knife or to use a mixer or other electric chopper with a blade... tradition maybe, but he insists it makes an inferior and more bitter product.

                    At the table, pass parsley oil capsules pre meal. This is also great in EVOO and lemon juice as a salad dressing with the addition of a little mint.

                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                      Google "Toum." Crazy good, but expect everyone you encounter after you eat it to cross the street.

                    2. re: pippimac

                      Yes! Lebanese garlic sauce is my nomination for most garlicky food ever.

                      Garlic will literally emanate from your pores for two days. I love it, but it means sleeping on the couch as my DH is not a fan.

                      1. re: coney with everything

                        Garlic will also waft out your door the minute you turn the key and open it!

                  3. a local restaurant in Delray Beach Fl used to (not sure if they still do) have whole roasted garlic sitting in olive oil to dip their delicious bread into. I went crazy smearing the garlic onto the bread and dipping in the oil and had 2 whole bulbs of garlic to myself. My then boyfriend could not sleep with me that night and got up half way through the night to play computer games.

                    1. A favorite Tamilian (South Indian) dish of mine is "poondu kulambu" or garlic curry. A thickish, spicy, sour gravy served by thoroughly mixing with steamed rice and with veg and/or meat sides. Reminds me, time to book a flight for mom :)


                      Of course mom makes hers with special masala from back home and more garlic!

                      1. We tasted pickled garlic at a wine festival and decided to make our own. I sliced a large container from a big box store, out on the deck so it didn't permeate the house. My finger and thumb which held the garlic were burned just from touching/holding so much of it. And I reeked of garlic, and that was before we started eating the fruits of our labors. It was good, but just a little sure went a long way. The girls at work convinced me to stop eating it. I could not get the smell off my hands, and they said it was coming out my pores. It was delicious for a garlic lover, but not those around me.

                        1. Alejo's in Westchester, CA.

                          Great bread and dipping sauce made of raw garlic and olive oil ~~ addictive and you smell of garlic for days.

                          1. the baguette dipping sauce @ Michaelangelo's San Fran, the stuff'll really play with your system ;:-(

                            1. I'd always bought into the "cooked garlic won't make you stinky" myth until I had the 'ol Chicken w/ Forty Cloves of.....some years ago. I would like to say that cooked garlic will indeed, make you stinky. My own kids avoided me.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: mamachef

                                I ate a whole head of roasted garlic on bread many years ago, and my husband and I awoke the next day with our room stinking of it.

                                At least HE could leave the room and get away from the source of the smell... ME!!!

                              2. I used to use a lot of garlic - but less now - so the query about "most garlicky food ever" is sort-of an unanswerable question! Nevertheless, *one* dish that I would sometimes really go heavy with the garlic is Bak Kut Teh (look it up). Sometimes I might toss in 3 heads or so of garlic for a single pot of the stuff where I would have maybe 1 gallon or so of final broth, with a "normal" rack of baby pork ribs...and suck out the garlic from 1 or 2 of the pulpy heads afterwards, or slurp up the dislodged garlic "meat" (from the cloves of the heads) and I would definitely be aware of the garlic intake the next day. :-)

                                1. It has been my experience that while cooked garlic still permeates your system, not as much as raw. Any anecdotal evidence that using frozen garlic makes any difference?

                                  1. Years ago, there was a deli in Tampa that made great bagels, hummus, and baba ghanoush.

                                    A girlfriend and I stopped by and split an order of baba ghanoush with some fresh pitas for lunch -- they were the yum, but we realized later that we weren't sure that there was any eggplant in it for all the garlic!

                                    I have always kept a toothbrush and toothpaste in my desk, and went and brushed my teeth three times that afternoon -- and still couldn't get rid of the garlic breath. Thank heavens I didn't have an appointment that day.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      Shame, maybe you *should* have had an appointment that day and perhaps noted the balls of the person who took everything in stride!!! :-D

                                      1. re: huiray

                                        thanks, but I really don't want to take note of the balls of anyone at an appointment.....!

                                        Almost forgot - the all-time best wasn't my story - I used to work for a retired Naval officer - he said they were flying planes back to the US from South Korea, and had gone out for one last meal of badass kimchee....

                                        He said they ended up taking their face masks off because the kimchee breath was so bad they couldn't even stand themselves.....now *that* is bad.

                                    2. Mmmmh, I am so addicted to garlic. I love thoum sauce! I love garlic achaar-pickled garlic Indo-Pak style! I love garlic-chile chutney-.ground red chiles, cumin, salt, and lots of garlic fried into a caustic red garlicky paste to eat a spoonful by mixing and mashing it into rice along with a main dish. I love roasted garlic. I also love mojo, slow and low-flame style fried crushed garlic sauce. I love garlic butter, too.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: luckyfatima

                                        still my favorite herb, but there was a time I claimed it as my favorite vegetable.

                                      2. I've read about Korean food as the most garlic-intensive on average.

                                        Not to say some isolated dish somewhere else might not take the cake.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Bada Bing

                                          Well, I read that Koreans like to fight with their food - an excessive extent of heat, chili-hotness, cold, chewiness, etc etc...which conceivably includes garlicdomness. :-)

                                        2. I experienced the most intense "garlic half-life" experience ever around 15 years ago. I had a friend who hailed from Lebanon, and one time when I stopped by his home he and his wife were sitting around the kitchen table having a few beers and eating potato chips, which they were enjoying with a bowl of dip. I had a few chips, with the dip...which was simply Hellman's mayonnaise with lots of pulverized garlic blended in. I love garlic and the dip was delicious, and didn't seem unusually strong until 6 hours later when I realized that my own esophagus was starting to feel lkie the most intense garlic sausage the world has ever known. There must have been a whole field of garlic in that mayo.
                                          But damn...it WAS good!

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: The Professor

                                            it's called Aioli in other parts of the Mediterranean region (and dayum, it IS good)

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              I just made some last week (to serve with a chicken bouillabaisse) - 6 cloves garlic, 2 egg yolks, 1 c. olive oil.

                                          2. Three unrelated points. 1) A Greek friend made us Skordalia---wet some sourdough bread with water, zapped it in the blender with a LOT of garlic while adding olive oil so a kind of mayonnaise was formed---we slathered it on everything. 2) In an Italian restaurant when I was 12 I ordered veal that had an amazing wonderful taste I had never tasted before. Mother told me "That is garlic---nice people don't eat garlic". 3) Google restaurant "The Stinking Rose" in San Francisco where everything is loaded with garlic. Wish I were there now. Mother was wrong.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Querencia

                                              oh your Mother WAS right, but what she didn't tell you is that nice people are generally no fun.

                                              1. re: hill food

                                                It sounds as if mother thinks nice people are folk who check into hospitals for the food (paraphrasing a joke I once heard).

                                              2. re: Querencia

                                                I was going to post about skordalia also, but anyway; if I'm having someone over who talks way too much and hogs/hijacks conversation.. I usually serve them a pretty powerful Skordalia which causes their sinuses to detonate, cough fits, etc... and is in general, is a pretty effective shut'em-upper.