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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.