Garlic encounters in theaters, festivals and cuisines

Posted by OmarTarakiNiodeFoundation
18 November 2012 | blogpost

A folklore in Indonesia introduces garlic to Indonesian children in their early age.  Bawang Merah Bawang Putih (Shallot and Garlic) is a popular children’s story about two sisters with different characters, one good and one bad, and an unjust stepmother. Almost similar to the story of Cinderella, it is often performed in school plays and now presented in musical theaters.

Garlic entered Indonesia centuries ago through Arab and Chinese traders. It was cultivated in the coastal areas first before inland population became familiar with the now one of the most popular food ingredients in the country.

Ancient Garlic

The history of garlic dates back one hundred centuries as written in a “novel” cookbook by Alan Lake. His book Heavy Breathing... Seduction by Garlic traced the plant’s origin from Neolithic caves 10,000 years ago to the present days. The book is a personal compendium of garlic facts, folklore, myths, legends, garlic art, quotes, award winning recipes and insights into how and where they were obtained. 

Garlic to Alan Lake, and for many of us can’t be ignored. In Alan’s opinion: “It’s very personal. You either like it or you don’t. It’s been found at the very foundations of food and medicine throughout civilization and is an essential ingredient in nearly all of the world’s cuisines. It creates a response, not indifference.”

Garlic festivals

Alan is the 3-time winning Delray Beach Garlic Festival Garlic Chef Champion. This festival features three days of cooking demonstrations and competitions and focused on food entertainment and fine dining not garlic growing.    

Noted garlic festivals in the world include Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California that has collected millions of dollars over the years for area charities and hosted over three million visitors in its over 30-year history.

The Isle of Wight Garlic Festival in the UK is famous for its garlic beer, garlic fudge, and garlic ice cream and Taskopru Culture and Garlic Festival in Turkey organizes a program of activities that include folk dancing and music, artisan exhibitions, garlic cuisine and cooking contests.

A garlic braiding seminar is offered at L’aglio di Voghiera a garlic festival in Italy while La Foire l’ail Fum d’Arleux in France boasts 500 exhibitors focusing mostly on roasted garlic and offers garlic soup as its signature dish.

Mad for Garlic

Garlic is a must in every kitchen counter in Indonesia. Dishes such as fried rice, mpek mpek, a savory fishcake from Palembang; satay; and sautéed vegetables, almost always use garlic.

Nowadays, garlic experience is not limited to home kitchen only as it has been elevated into an all-garlic fine dining experience.  Last year Mad for Garlic a restaurant specializing in a variety of garlic Italian cuisine opened at Grand Indonesia Shopping town in Jakarta.

Mad for Garlic, began its business in Korea as a wine and garlic restaurant offering Italian dishes with a variety of wine and beverage in an atmosphere of a medieval European rustic tavern, a combination of fast casual and fine dining. Mad for Garlic has an outlet in Indonesia, Singapore and 24 in Korea including its Gangnam store.

International eatery

As reported by the Jakarta Post, Mad For Garlic, Indonesia, Jakarta was selected because of its robust economy and the similar taste profile of local Indonesians, who are constantly craving unique and spicy menu items.

We visited Mad for Garlic Jakarta located between boutiques in the posh shopping mall. The menu is simple with choices of starter, salad, pasta, pizza, rice, beef & special and dessert. We ordered from the starter and salad menu that has big enough portions for 2 people

The Tutto Mushroom Salad is a must-try dish with garlic and rosemary marinated mushroom salad served in teriyaki sauce with grilled red pepper, asparagus and rucola. The Anchovy Garlic Fondue is impressive, served with oven baked whole garlic, tomato, croutons. Indonesia produces garlic, hence we are a little bit disappointed however, when knowing the big and yellowish garlic is imported from China. Perhaps requirements for standard sizes and shapes of garlics to be served made this necessary.

Garlic secrets

The secret of Mad for Garlic’s success is its creative preparation method of removing the garlic’s pungent smell and unique way of cooking Italian cuisine with a Korean twist.

Regardless of the pungent smell, the bulb with a Latin name Allium sativum has many more secrets. Allicin, the sulphur compound contained in garlic is believed to be the powerful health-giving properties.

After all these years, Bawang Putih still keeps its good character.

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Images: Mad for Garlic, Lora Schraft/Gilroy Dispatch, Musikal BMPB, Pepmiba, Sopose/ Shutterstock, Omar Niode Foundation