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Which cuisines don't use garlic?

Mr. Alka and I were wondering this the other day, musing on the glories of garlic.

Is there a "garlic frontier"?

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    1. One thing I've learned here, there is a religious, vegetarian sect in India that doesn't eat garlic nor onions. Not sure they have what you would call their own cuisine though?

      6 Replies
      1. re: coll

        Strict Buddhist vegetarian is the same, with the addition of hot peppers.

        1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

          Same as the Hare Krishna temple I go to (to eat). They don't use garlic but they'll do a tiny bit of asafoetida powder for a similar effect. They also don't do caffeine or alcohol.

          1. re: PinkLynx

            This all comes from Hindu practice. The ISKCON people are Hindus and Jainism and Buddhism kind of derive from Hinduism. Higher caste Hindus are forbidden to use alliums or peppers, which are considered rajasic (stimulants which interfere with spiritual practice and excite physical and I guess mental passions). And yes they use asafoetida as an allium substitute.

            1. re: ratgirlagogo

              Thank you for the background info :)

              1. re: ratgirlagogo

                So interesting, I thought it had to do only with accidentally ingesting bugs. Glad to know they have a substitute!

            2. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

              There was this Buddhist vegetarian take out place owned by a female monk I used to go to in SOHO. No onions or garlic! That is the basis of all my food - have no idea how she made it so delicious

            1. Garlic was pretty scary exotic stuff to most early North American cooks of Anglo-Saxon descent - you wont see much ir any garlic in 19th Century N. American Cookery.

              3 Replies
              1. re: JTPhilly

                And even up through the 60s-70s garlic was still considered pretty exotic in many if not most American households. I think it was the 80s when garlic started being embraced on a large scale.

                1. re: Roland Parker

                  Thankfully the ethnic cuisines have triumphed

                  1. re: JTPhilly

                    What ethnic cuisines? Most places I've been to outside of the US (mainly Italy, Greece, Chile, Argentina, Brazil--to name some that are assumed as being garlicky) are absolutely NOT into garlic and use it sparingly in their cooking in my experience. Strong garlicky garlic bread: I've never eaten anything that garlicky outside of the US.

              2. Jain religious cuisine in India uses neither onion nor garlic.

                1. I'm guessing garlic isn't heavy in the Icelandic pot.

                  1. Like coli and RealMenJulienne says above, Jains don't use onion or garlic. Their religion calls for the avoidance of all taking of life, and they don't eat any root vegetable because it kills the plant, whereas harvest of fruit or leaves does not.

                    Many Eastern ashrams and monasteries, --Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh -- don't use garlic in their food because it's said to be stimulating or heating and to get in the way of deep meditation.

                    I don't think Inuit, Eskimos, Sami, and other indigenous people who live in extremely cold climates use garlic in their cooking.

                    1. As with most foods, they are more popular where they grow, than where they don't. Although garlic is a fairly forgiving plant, it prefers a warmer climate, to a cooler one.

                      As such, you'll not generally find it in the traditional cuisines, say, of northern Europe, while you will in those of the south.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Harters

                        Back in the age of imperialism, didn't the British revile the french and Southern Europeans as garlic eaters?

                        1. re: RealMenJulienne

                          Oh, we've reviled the French for centuries. I suppose it goes back to them invading and occupying us in 1066 - even though they weren't even proper French, just French Vikings. Of course, they don't like it that we occupied much of northern France for 200 years between the 1340s and 1550s (or thereabouts)

                          Of course, they're only 21 miles away and our nearest foreign neighbours (until Ireland became independent in the 1920s), so it's just friendly rivalry rather than "revilery".

                            1. re: gourmanda

                              Harter, just ignore the cheese- eating surrender monkeys....:)

                              1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                my English/Scots mother reviled garlic

                                1. re: laliz

                                  Won't find any stinking rose in my English MIL's cooking !

                            2. Scandihoovians. all of them, i mean us. and scandihoovian-americans.

                              i ask you, did you ever find garlic in a Sons of Knute tuna hot dish?

                              no kidding, i once showed a garlic toe (as we say in the south) to one of my scandihoovian relatives and she said, what _is_ that?

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: kariin

                                I'm a Danish Scandihoovian, and I think a little dab of garlic improves the wonderful flavor of lutefisk...:)

                                1. re: kariin

                                  I was gonna offer up Swedish cuisine. Or at least that I ate growing up.

                                  But it could have been the skill level of my relatives who pulled out the can of giant black olives for special occasions.

                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                    ...you're playin' a game of hide and go seek/
                                    Jain, you're playin' for fun/
                                    But I play for keeps, yes I do.

                                    by Brahmaputra Starship

                                    1. A kind of fancy-pants Italian guy I knew once told me that REAL Italian food doesn't contain much garlic at all. He abhorred American-Italian food for being too garlicky (and oily and tomato-y and salty and cheesy). Does anyone know if this is true? He was from the North, near Lake Como. He also didn't consider Sicilians to be real Italians.

                                      10 Replies
                                      1. re: ninrn

                                        I suspect he may have had something of a point. The cuisine in the north is quite different from the south and I wouldnt be at all surprised to learn that the northern food doesnt contain much garlic. If you think of where Lake Como is, you'd imagine that the food is going to have its similarities to German and Swiss German food - neither well known for their garlic use.

                                        1. re: Harters

                                          I think it's actually illegal to put any spices into German food.

                                            1. re: Harters

                                              Actually, I think German food tends to have more garlic than Northern Italian food--perhaps than Italian food, in general. I never found Germans to be as dainty with the garlic as the Italians I've known. At least among my relatives, I knew of people who ate raw sliced garlic on bread on occasion, not to mention all the more "normal" uses of puting it into potato salad, meats, etc...

                                            2. re: ninrn

                                              He sounds a bit snobbish but its true Italian American food has little to do with what you will find up near Como - OTOH the food you get in an Italian-American restaurant has almost nothing to do with what my Italian-American family (di Abruzzi e Campania) ate at home either. It is one food I generally do not prefer to eat out. As for "real Italians" Italy is a small country made up of a diverse people weather he likes it or not.

                                              1. re: ninrn

                                                "He also didn't consider Sicilians to be real Italians."

                                                The Italian prejudice against Sicilians is very real

                                                1. re: cgarner

                                                  Yes, and against other Southern Italians as well (Naples, etc).

                                                  Garlic didn't play a huge role in my maternal relatives' French Canadian (Tignish and QC) cuisine. Onions, yes, but garlic, no.

                                                  1. re: cgarner

                                                    My grandmother had plenty to say about her Sicilian DIL until she got an Irish one.

                                                2. Certain Buddhist groups do not use garlic, leeks, or onions.

                                                  1. Everything my grandmothers cooked. Traditional American food with its roots in British and German cooking.

                                                    As a child my mother only used garlic in her homemade tomato sauce, which called for *1* garlic clove. Since she made the sauce maybe four times a year, the rest of the clove would molder in the fridge till it turned into a soft brown mess and was thrown away.

                                                    It wasn't until I was 14-15 when we started including more garlic in other dishes.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Roland Parker

                                                      German cooking certainly has garlic. Why wouldn't it? It's quite common throughout Central Europe. Perhaps not tons of it, though... An example would be "frikadellen" (meatballs or meatloaf balls if you will, the German version of hamburger) which contain garlic.

                                                    2. Japanese food generally doesn't have garlic. You can find it, but most dishes don't have it.

                                                      1. irish. tongue planted firmly in cheek.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: eLizard

                                                          Gaelic and garlic are just a letter apart!

                                                          1. re: eLizard

                                                            I dunno, there may be something to that
                                                            my Nan was second generation, Irish on her Dad's side and English on her Mom's side and she detested the stuff
                                                            (and then married my Sicilian Grandfather, go figure)

                                                          2. Vaishnavas, Krishna devotees, and some other Hindus (including those who subscribe to pure brahmana-style cooking) avoid members of the allium family. So not only garlic, but onions, leeks, scallions, and chives are off-limits. Apparently they excite impure passions and increase ignorance.

                                                            In my case, that explains a lot.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                Well, well. "Impure passions" tempted you, eh? :)