Italian and Garlic – A Match Made In Heaven

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If you know good authentic Italian food, you know cheese and garlic are in nearly every recipe. But did you know that April 19th is National Garlic Day? We’re guessing no. Offering the best Italian in Manchester, you can bet our chefs at Piccola Italia are all over this one! Celebrating the fragrant root that seamlessly blends with so many Italian dishes seems a must!

However, we’re also guessing that you probably know the basics about garlic. Facts like garlic is in the same family as onions and that there are many superstitions about garlic seem widespread. But did you know that garlic is a member of the lily family? How about that garlic is used in several herbal remedies?


Garlic is one of the most versatile ingredients available and one of the most talked about. Here, we’re dedicating this article to everything garlic. The good, the smelly, and the often unknown.


Garlic is old. Real old.

Like most food items, pinpointing a specific time in history is nearly impossible. Relying on the written and drawn word, historians have been able to get close with garlic. Among the oldest known crops, historical evidence shows Babylonians using garlic 4,500 years ago. If that isn’t enough for you, Egyptian cultures also depicted imagery of garlic use 5,000 years ago.

However, according to The Garlic Club, there is speculation that our ancestors began using garlic about 10,000 years ago, just after the last Ice Age.


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Did we mention that garlic has health benefits?

Since we’re on the topic of age, we feel it relevant to circle back to your health. While many, to this day, continue to use garlic in herbal remedies, the idea is far from new. In fact, the first reference to the health benefits of garlic dates back 8,000 years to ancient Chinese writings.


Garlic is not native to the United States.

While there are close relatives native to the United States, garlic is not one of them. It is believed that settlers from Italy, Germany, and Poland are due credit when it concerns the first arrival of garlic to the States. However, as time passed and more settlers from other regions arrived, the variety grew. As variety is the spice of life, this was exciting news for sure!


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Let’s talk about variety.

Another fun fact that we’re guessing most people don’t know is that there are 700 species of garlic! Hardneck varieties typically hold a stronger flavor and bigger clove. Softneck garlic is the most common option and what most stores offer to consumers. Beyond the obvious taste difference, hardneck garlic contains a center stalk while softneck varieties do not.

Garlic and Italian food have a long history.

As we mentioned early on, if you know Italian food, you know garlic and cheese go hand and hand. During the 18th and 19th centuries, cheaper foods (like garlic) were incorporated into Northern Italian cooking. Often, garlic was simmered in olive oil to infuse the flavor. The garlic was then removed, and the meal prepared.


It’s here that the story gets interesting –

If you’ve ever traveled to Italy, chances are you consumed very little garlic. Garlic and Italian cuisine are an American tradition. Where it began, we don’t know. But, you won’t find our family at Piccola complaining!

On April 19th, or anytime really, be sure to stop by Piccola Italia for the best Italian in Manchester – garlic or no garlic! We look forward to seeing you!

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