But did you ever wonder how garlic (that fantastic and noble vegetable) ever came to be associated with this fearful demon of the dark?
It all has to do with the lowly mosquito. Garlic, you see, is a natural mosquito repellent. Eat it, wear it and/or handle it and one doesn’t get bit by the pest (at least most of the time).
One or two hundred years ago when the legend of the vampires was first circulating, conservative Christianity was also flourishing in Europe. The social mores of the time required individuals to cover almost every part of the body except their necks.
Without garlic as a repellent, people could easily be bite by mosquitoes in the only available area, i.e. the neck, leaving small ‘bite-like ‘ red marks.
If the mosquitoes carried malaria, the person bit soon became exhausted, feverish, anemic, pale, with swollen red marks – resulting in what appeared to others to be a lingering near-death condition.
Since scientific knowledge was often in short supply in remote rural areas and the symptoms matched so closely with rural legends, well, let’s just say the vampire got the blame, sine garlic. And that is how garlic became the preferred anti-vampire protection system.
So what’s the absolutely perfect Halloween gift for a chef or gourmet enthusiast? Why, a garlic wreath, of course.
It will keep the unwanted away and can later enhance a nearly endless array of winter dishes. And be assured, not a single vampire will bother you during this hauntingly delightful season!
Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2012