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Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Photo by: Lord-Williams

OCat anys, ayns, any, ays ayla, ayl, Cat alls, L. Allium sativum, Ar. thūm, Fr. ail, Eng. garlic, derived from the Celt. all, meaning hot. This seasoning originated in the Kirgiz Range formerly part of the Soviet Union and spread from there around the Mediterranean. The Romans brought it to Spain from Egypt. As it thrives best in sunny regions, Spain is a major world producer. Spaniards claim that as they ate more, they became more powerful and thus were able to throw the Romans out of the Region of León. A recipe for garlic soup from that period in León still exists today. 

Camba claims that no garlic is cooked until it has lost its power to ward off evil. Perhaps the Spaniards learned this from the Romans who placed garlic at the threshold of their homes to keep witches away. 

Arabs claim to have introduced or reintroduced it to al-Andalus. Garlic, however, turned against the Muslim invaders in Aragon. Muslims who laid siege on the King of Aragon, suffered defeat for trying to break lines to retrieve garlic heads on the river bank. From that came the expression “caro ajo me ha salido” (garlic turned out to be quite expensive), see azor. Garlic, nevertheless, is ever present in Fadalat and the Anon. Al-Andalus, the two surviving Hispano-Muslim culinary manuscripts. Garlic was part of the meal for medieval laborers with bread and salt pork. The entire plant is edible but a clove is most commonly consumed. It has been used to flavor almost all foods except desserts. Spanish proverbs about garlic date back to times so remote that it has been said that Spaniards themselves are all descendants of garlic. 

Medicinally, it has been thought to be a cure-all. In the Middle Ages it was used as a charm against plague and a talisman to protect children from evil spirits and to ward off the evil eye. In the 13th C it was an antidote for snakebites. In the 15th C its antibacterial properties were so well known in Spain that it was said that ‘garlic is the antidote for the villain’. As an antiseptic, it is used externally and internally. Not only can it hinder the lives of various microbes, it can even kill some species like intestinal worms. It is used also to reduce hypertension and combat arteriosclerosis. Garlic provides immunity against infectious diseases like dysentery, typhoid and even common colds. Further, a decoction including one garlic clove is recommended for colds and whooping cough. To treat pulmonary tuberculosis, the juice as been used has an inhalant. Today, it is known to cure certain types of cancer. [Alonso Luengo. 1994:33; Anón/Grewe. 1982:IIII:65:V:66: Apè III:236 etc; Camba. 1995:37; ES: Collins. Apr 1, 96; Curye. 1985:170; ES: Figueroa. “Refranes.” Jan 29, 03; ES: Gutiérrez. Jun 1, 98; ES: Ibarra. Sep 1, 03; ES: Sorrenti. Apr 4, 02; Ibn Razīn/Marín. 2007:38; Sánchez-Albornoz. 2000:34:42; and Villena/Navarro. 1879:44] 


By medieval times at least, it is known that for mid-morning lunch, peasants drank a warm water or broth with garlic and stale bread that were previously fried in olive oil, especially in the winter, which today this is called Garlic Soup. Now it is served in all households regardless of social standing on Christmas Eve, other special occasions and without the egg as traditional Lenten Dish.

Ingredients for 4 persons

5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
10-12 garlic cloves peeled and slices
(1 tbsp sweet paprika . – do not use if presenting a medieval dish)
4-8 slices French bread 1-7 days old, torn into small pieces
1 ½ quart vegetable broth made with broccoli or cauliflower
Creamed Garlic Soup
Photo by: by negora
½ c blanched, peeded and ground almonds
Salt and pepper to taste
4 eggs (1 for each serving)
1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 c slivered almonds to garnigh
a splash of dry Sherry


Preheat oven to 350º F / 177º C

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan oven medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden brown for a couple of minutes (during which paprika is added if used).
Add the bread and fry until browned.
Pour in the vegetable broth. Add almonds. Stir and bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Pour half the soup into the food processor and grind until thick and smooth. Pour into an ovenproof soup bowl or individual bowls and do the same with the second half.
Break whole eggs over the soup and swirl the whites with a wooden spoon to make noodle-like strands. Heat in oven until eggs have solidified   Sprinkle with parsley and almonds. Give it a splash of sherry and serve.


  1. Ohhh ¡¡¡ que interesante blog ..te felicito Susan.
    Ojala salga una version en Español .. pero igual se entiende.
    Para celebrar hay que hacer una receta .
    Saludos y mucha suerte

  2. ¡Muchas gracias! Espero que sigues leyendo mis blogs. Se puede hacer una suscripción por correo electrónico gratis.

  3. Una tía mía tiene una receta suya que llama "patatas al cominín", básicamente, una ensalada de patatas cocidas aliñadas con un ajo machacado, cominos y aceite (sin ligar). Yo machaqué el ajo (uno gordo) con sal, el comino y creo que alguna hierba, aunque no es necesario (perejil seguramente, aunque últimamente uso mucho cilantro), unas gotas de vinagre de Jerez, y el hilo de aceite; cuando ligó lo disolví con una pizca de agua para que no quedara tan pastoso y se pudiera mezclar mejor con las patatas. ¡Super!

  4. Por cierto, no veo en la lista "al ajillo". ¿Existía ya en la Edad Media esta forma tan popular de preparar casi todo?

  5. Nope. "ajllo" is little chile also called "guindilla" in Spanish. This is chile is American. So it came to Spain after the Middle Ages.

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  7. Many thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  8. I made this on the stove top with slightly less sugar and I was amazed at how delicious this recipe was. Will definitely be making again and again. Thank you!
    Regards: Eve Hunt