ajo – garlic in Spain

A guide to food in Spain


Spanish garlic

By Francis Barrett In Catalonia, heads of garlic are sold in braided strings or net bags hung decoratively around market stalls, which usually also sell onions. The first time I went to the market in Figueres, I asked for a single head of garlic, causing great amusement to all present.

Uncountable in English, countable in Spanish and Catalan, garlic seems to feature in the majority of household dishes in this country. I have seen people, while trying to decide what to have for lunch or dinner, peel and chop a couple of dientes [“teeth”, i.e. cloves] of garlic and throw it into hot oil, even before they’ve made any decision!

There are several varieties of garlic grown in Spain . Some are white, with lots of small white inaccessible dientes , while others have a purple tinge, and tend to be easier to peel. Some are strong, some are mild, some are almost sweet, and some have a lingering flavour, or just repeat ferociously! All of them stink to a greater or lesser degree. Purple garlic from Las Pedroneras, in the province of Cuenca , is generally considered to be the best of all. 80% of this particular variety is exported to meet the demands of gourmets throughout the world. It has a light wheat colour, a fine texture, and a “pungent” aroma.

Garlic is eaten both raw and cooked. It is common to find several whole or half cloves in salads, stews and baked dishes. It seems to have become fashionable in posh joints not to peel them. Most people chop them coarsely for frying, and I can’t recall ever seeing mashed garlic or garlic paste in this country. I’ve seen dried garlic flakes, garlic powder, garlic salt and garlic oil on supermarket shelves, but I would be surprised to find them in any decent Spanish kitchen.

Ajo y perejil / all i julivert /garlic & parsley is a mixture routinely sprinkled with a little oil on chicken, fish and mushrooms for cooking, and is absolutely heavenly when not too heavily applied. Almost anything cooked al ajillo is divine, especially prawns { gambas ].

Tender or green garlic is harvested in spring in the form of alls tendres /ajos tiernos . These look like green or spring onions or scallions and are very mild. They frequently appear in salads and by themselves or with other ingredients, especially prawns, in omelettes.

When planted in winter, garlic cloves sprout chive-like shoots, called / brotes de ajo , which can be used as a seasoning or garnish. These greens yield a flavour that is gentler and subtler than chopped garlic, but stronger than chives. They are easily cultivated at home in a saucer.

Garlic has always been a traditional remedy for and protection against a variety of ills, and modern medicine has proved the old wives right. Garlic is not only a digestive stimulant, but is also of use in the treatment of a wide range of diseases, particularly ailments such as ringworm, candida and vaginitis, where its fungicidal, parasiticidal, antiseptic and tonic properties have proved of benefit. It also has diuretic and antispasmodic effects. It helps to prevent plaque build-up in arteries, and is thus beneficial to heart health. Demographic studies suggest that garlic is responsible for the low incidence of arteriosclerosis in areas of Italy and Spain where consumption of the bulb is heavy. Additionally, many studies have been done to show the value of garlic when used to prevent certain forms of cancer. There is strong evidence that healthful benefits derive only from the natural product, not pills or extracts.

Folklore also attributes other powers to garlic. Vampires have never been a major issue in Catalunya (although it was a Catalan who pointed out to me that vampirism was clearly a case of advanced.


garlic in spain
history of garlic
galic varities
spanish garlic
spanish garlic recipes
garlic consumption in Spain
garlic in Catalan
how do you say garlic in Catalan?
como se dice ajo en inglés?
traduce ajo ingles
como es diu ajo en inglés
purple garlic
galic remedies
garlic tradions
spanish garlic cooking