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Fine Times to Raise a Stink

Garlic Fans Find Safety, and Camaraderie, in Numbers

July 19, 1998|NANCY SPILLER

Breath asure has done for garlic what the Pill did for sex. This is not an advertisement; it's an advisory: Take two to three of the amber-colored gel capsules after indulging, and you needn't worry about offending loved ones and guests. I offer personal experience as proof. While I was on a recent extreme diet of brown rice and steamed vegetables flavored with lemon juice and raw garlic, I actually craved steamed eggplant with garlic and lemon for breakfast. But I added Breath Asure to my plate and no one was ever the wiser.

Of course, if you don't have Breath Asure, the next best thing is eating garlic in a group. When everyone partakes of the stinking rose, no one seems to notice. Dinner parties are fine--festivals are fantastic.

The safety-in-numbers theory held true at the first Gilroy Garlic Festival back in 1979. I remember the day was sunny and hot, and we all should have reeked after the sauteed garlic with calamari and the pickled garlic cloves. But as I stood in the center of the garlic universe with fumes blasting from all directions, not a single hand was held modestly over an odiferous mouth. Gilroy, by the way, has been declaring itself the garlic capital of the world long enough for Will Rogers to have joked that it was "the only town in America where you can marinate a steak by hanging it on a clothesline."

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday August 16, 1998 Home Edition Los Angeles Times Magazine Page 4 Times Magazine Desk 1 inches; 33 words Type of Material: Correction
An ingredient was inadvertently omitted from the recipe for Kelly's Asian Chicken (Entertaining, July 19). After the chicken has been browned, 3 tablespoons of honey should be added with the vinegar and soy sauce to create the glaze.

Pasadena was less willing to embrace an openly garlic lifestyle the day I joined its Doo Dah Parade. A better time might have been had by all if everyone had dressed as a giant garlic, as I and my fellow heads were. Early on, I detected a certain antagonism toward our contingent. Not that we smelled. All we did was throw garlic cloves at bystanders. OK, maybe we hurled them a little too aggressively, particularly in the direction of an overly perky television hostess. And when said bystanders stepped on the aforementioned cloves, they couldn't help but enact our plan to create a powerful olfactory trail. As far as we were concerned, it was a day to savor for weeks to come in Old Town.

Another memorable group garlic foray was organized by our Doo Dah leader, Times staff writer Charles Perry. As Los Angeles' leading garlic activist, Perry pooh-poohs the efficacy of Breath Asure and considers the smell of garlic necessary protection against vampires. A few years ago, he arranged a "Gar-hop" tour of L.A. restaurants. The chefs agreed to entertain us with one garlic dish per stop. A busload of garlic lovers wearing hats inscribed "Breathe Tall" inhaled everything from Ken Frank's garlic soup at La Toque to strip mall Ethiopian chicken to Cajun jambalaya and vodka gar-tinis. The day ended with delicately flavored garlic ice cream and a group breathing not only tall, but fearlessly, too.

The recipe offered here won first place in Gilroy's inaugural Garlic Festival. It gives off a pungent, glorious, sweet odor while cooking. If you don't invite anyone to share it with you, who knows? You just might find a crowd of folks spontaneously gathered at your door.

*

This year's Gilroy Garlic Festival will be held Friday through July 26.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Kelly's Asian Chicken

Kelly Greene, Mill Valley, Calif.

Serves 4 to 6 *

3 tablespoons peanut oil

3 1/2-pound frying chicken, cut into serving pieces, or the equivalent in chicken parts of your choice

1 head fresh garlic, cloves peeled and coarsely chopped

2 small dried hot red peppers (optional)

3/4 cup distilled white vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

*

Heat oil in large, heavy skillet. Over medium-high heat, brown chicken well on all sides, about 15 to 20 minutes, adding garlic and peppers toward the end.

Add remaining ingredients and cook until chicken is slightly glazed and sauce has been reduced somewhat, about 25 minutes. If cooking white and dark meat, remove white meat first, so that it doesn't dry out. Make sure sauce does not burn or boil away.

Serve with sauce over Chinese noodles, pasta or rice.

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