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Jan 9, 2013 12:19 PM

Fall into the garlic trap much?

On the few times I eat out these days, I've stumbled into the garlic/garlic greens trap, where just a few bites of a dish (in this case some Korean Mandu) and I'm branded for days with the offensive garlic "breath", actually more like a massive garlic cloud that can light up a whole subway car. no amount of tooth brushing or gum chewing, or parsley chewing help.

It didn't used to be like this. Fresh garlic didn't used to smell like something internally processed by a drunk. (and no, I didn't have any alcohol). I'm quite sure it's when restaurants use the pre-peeled, and even the pre-minced garlic for convenience sake.

Has anyone else been noticing this? For New Yorkers who ride on the subway, you know what I mean.

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  1. Pre-minced garlic has zero garlic flavor right out of the jar, IMO, let alone a great pungency after it has been eaten. It is like a mild weird tasting garlic hybrid. Foul stuff, in any event. I haven't been assaulted by garlic in recent memory, though I am convinced we all process garlic differently. I can eat a ton of it, have garlic breath for a while, but that is the end of it. A friend of mine eats just a little and it comes out of her pores for a good 24 hours, as in she literally STINKS of it the next morning.

    1. When I cook at home I always put garlic in my food. Whatever recipe I'm "following" I will add at least 2x the garlic called for. Restaurant dishes don't have nearly enough garlic, IMHO.

      7 Replies
      1. re: MonMauler

        It's likely true that each person process garlic differently, though at the same time, it takes a neutral person other than ourselves to determine whether the garlic breath had really left us or we've just gotten used to ourselves.

        1. re: MonMauler

          just curious, do you use pre-peeled garlic?

          1. re: HLing

            I don't know about MonMauler, but I sometimes buy pre-peeled fresh garlic at the local market and it is no different than the garlic in any way. I see no reason why it _should_ be any different.

            As to garlic stink the next day---I don't really have that problem to any great degree (and I use garlic quite a bit), but it doesn't matter either way; if anyone is offended by the smell of garlic, all they need to do is keep their distance.

            1. re: The Professor

              I saw some pre-peeled garlic at the market the other day. Seemed like a good price, too. Didn't buy them, got twelve heads for $1 instead, but I think it may have been a good deal. Peeling garlic can be a bitch.

              1. re: MonMauler

                I love pre-peeled garlic - it is one of the few "convenience" foods I'm willing to pay for. My local markets all offer it for around $4 per pound, which I think is an excellent deal considering that the cloves are already peeled, trimmed and blemish free. I occasionally buy the huge 3lb bags at Costco for around $2 per pound, although I only do that when I want to make a large quantity of garlic confit to stock the freezer. I have never noticed it being any more or less pungent than garlic I peel myself.

                1. re: biondanonima

                  I'm thinking that I may take the plunge and buy some pre-peeled garlic next time I'm out based on your recommendation and those above. It always looks so much easier.

            2. re: HLing

              Nah, I use whole bulbs. Seperate, peel them and mince them myself if I don't roast them. I love garlic. Used roasted garlic to spread on homemade bread for dinner just last night...

          2. People do react differently to garlic. Raw garlic is usually the culprit. Roasted/cooked garlic should not leave any 'cloud' of garlic breath. Also the freshness of the raw garlic is the main thing to consider. When fresh local garlic is in season around here we eat it every day. Mostly cooked but raw too. Eating dried out crappy garlics who spent a month on a container ship after drying out for a couple of months in a warehouse in China is guaranteed to give you a long lasting stinky garlic breath. Don't eat it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Puffin3

              Definitely, I can stay away from the bad ones when I shop. The thing is, when restaurants start using the cheap garlic to save time, we have no choice, except maybe to know not to return next time.

            2. When I lived in Seoul . . .

              For the first week my eyes would water every morning when I got on the elevator from the smell of garlic seeping from everyone's pores and breath. The second week I was still aware of it, but it didn't make my eyes water or leave me feeling like i should be gasping for breath. By the end of a month I was happily oblivious.

              After 3 months my (american) boss came back from a two week trip to the US and I happened to be on the elevator with him. He commented, "well, you must be adjusting to living here, you are starting to smell like a native." I didn't have a clue. So for those of you who believe that it doesn't affect you, you might want to reconsider your opinion.

              3 Replies
              1. re: KaimukiMan

                KaimukiMan, do you attribute "smelling like a native" to any particular Korean dish?

                I remember Taiwanese street food fondly. While in the US eventually some Taiwanese food ecome available, and had come pretty close to my memory of it, it took just one trip back to Taiwan (after 15+ years of absence) for me to realize right away the difference between the FRAGRANCE of garlic and the STINK of garlic.

                1. re: HLing

                  my guess is that 80% or more of the food prepared in korea, excluding plain white rice, has garlic in it, usually in significant quantities. whether it is noodles, seafood, meat, or vegetables; if it has been cooked or pickled, it probably has garlic in there.

                  so no, its not related to a specific dish, but to the general character of the cuisine. and please understand, my boss was not making a derogatory comment. he was telling me that he was glad I was acculturating well.

                  and yes, garlic used/cooked properly has a fragrance, otherwise it can stink (ask anyone who has been to Gilroy CA for the garlic festival), but in a small elevator jammed with people who just had breakfast the 'fragrance' can be overwhelming.

                2. re: KaimukiMan

                  Growing up in a Korean family back in high school (in the US of A) my friends would always tell me I smelled like garlic...all the time.

                  Once I stopped living with my mother the comments stopped. But on occasions she would come to visit with food my friend would immediately notice...I wouldn't even have to say anything, someone would just ask me "Is your mom visiting? You smell like garlic again."

                3. I don't think I've been trapped, ever. But, that said, I try to avoid raw garlic in any fair amount because it gives me terrible indigestion. When I cook with it, I always buy whole heads and do the work on them myself. Cooked garlic doesn't seem to make me feel like a safe fell on my chest and I've never been accused of smelling like it.
                  If I noticed someone else smelling of it, I'd just assume that they had a good a meal.