Sure, we’re crazy about garlic, but this isn’t a new thing! The word garlic comes from Old English garleac, meaning “spear leek.” Dating back over 6,000 years, it is native to Central Asia, and has long been a staple in the Mediterranean region, as well as a frequent seasoning in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Garlic has a very old and interesting history, let us give you a little summary of garlic over time:
3200 BC: Garlic, one of the oldest cultivated plants in existence, is grown in Egypt. Egyptians were said to have been obsessed with the herb, because they believed it strengthened the body and prevented disease. Legend says slaves building the pyramids were fed garlic to ward off infection.
2600 BC: The Sumerians name garlic on a list of dietary staples. Noted on a clay tablet, it’s believed to be the first time the herb is mentioned in writing.
1550 BC: The Ebers Papyrus, an ancient medical text, names hundreds of herbal remedies, and 22 of them call for garlic. A grocer’s purchase of 395,000 bunches of garlic is also recorded on Persian tablets.
1652: The Complete Herbal, written by British physician Nicholas Culpeper, credits garlic with many powers, such as healing bites of mad dogs and venomous creatures, ridding children of worms, and curing ulcers.
1897: English writer Bram Stoker’s famous novel Dracula refers to the long-standing European superstition that garlic protects against vampires and werewolves. Some suggest that Count Dracula himself was the mastermind behind the belief – since the herb has been shown to thin the blood, it would decrease clotting action, making it easier for vampires to feast on people who consumed it.
1914: British doctors use garlic as an antiseptic against infections, such as gangrene, during the First World War. Russian physicians later do the same during the Second World War; they also supplement soldiers’ diets with garlic and onions to prevent disease. Garlic is consequently nicknamed “Russian penicillin.”
1979: About 15,000 people attend the first annual Gilroy Garlic Festival in California. The three-day summertime festival, featuring live music, arts and crafts and food (such as garlic wine, garlic ice cream, and garlic sushi) awards the herb by the pound to competition winners. The event grows to more than 125,000 attendees, and Gilroy is dubbed the “Garlic Capital of The World.”
1980: A rash of clinical research examining the role of garlic in reducing blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke begins. Some studies find the herb can reduce blood pressure, decrease cholesterol, fend off common colds, enhance the immune system, and prevent cancer.
What do you think about garlic’s evolution?