Cookbook Review: The Garlic Lovers’ Cookbook New Edition compiled by The Gilroy Garlic Festival Association

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PROS: The recipes are compiled from locals in the Gilroy area which is sweet and a good shout out to Gilroy, home of garlic.

CONS: I didn’t find any of the recipes I made particularly garlicky. Some of the recipes were boring, nothing was cohesive, and frankly, I don’t believe using one clove in a recipe makes a recipe belong in a garlic lovers’ cookbook. I love garlic and wanted that tang.

I’ve had this book in my collection for awhile. I’ve decided that I need to go through my cookbook collection and parse out the books that are substandard as opposed to the cookbooks I love. It will make me feel less guilty about adding new books to the collection. So, I randomly grabbed one of the books and decided to have fun with it.

I bought this book because I love garlic. But then I hadn’t cooked out of it in awhile. I’m not surprised now that I’ve made some of the recipes. There’s nothing entirely exciting about the book. It’s a random match of recipes that all include garlic. The thing is, none of them include enough garlic for a cookbook devoted to lovers of garlic.

The recipes in this book are compiled from locals from around Gilroy – home of the Garlic Festival where they serve things like garlic ice cream. When I got this book I got it because I wanted garlic. I always include garlic in my recipes, most recipes include garlic, but that doesn’t mean every one of those recipes belong in this cookbook. And sadly, I felt like a lot of the recipes in this book just weren’t garlicky and weren’t deserving of a place in this cookbook. I’m not saying all of the recipes are subpar or bad, because they’re not. But they’re not necessarily recipes I would make for someone who wants a lot of garlic.

The book is separated into several chapters, appetizers/antipasti, vegetables,salads,and dressings, soups, savory breads,pasta,and pies, meats, poultry, seafood, and miscellaneous. The recipes I cooked were picked from four of these chapters and were randomly picked.

The book starts out by giving us some information about garlic – how to select it, how to store it, how to peel it, and how to cook it. It also taught me that if your hands get that garlicky smell, rub them with either salt or lemon juice and then wash which water. There’s also tips on how to remove the odor of garlic from your bowls.

Despite having lived close to Gilroy throughout college, I never did make it to the garlic festival. Apparently it started in 1979 and has been going strong since. One year we almost went but the traffic was awful. We stopped at Target instead and went shopping. Now I’m pretty far away from Gilroy – too far to just drive up for the garlic festival. I’m sad I never went in the past. I love garlic.

And I think I could make a better garlic cookbook than this one.

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Pork and Green Chiles p. 167

This recipe was submitted to the book by a resident of Gilroy (home of the garlic festival.) The snippet before the recipe says, “Contrast the richness of pork with a snappy green chile sauce for a delicious south-of-the-border flavor.” I think this dish could have used more garlic. Though 3 cloves for a serving of two might be plenty for some people, when I cook from a garlicked out cookbook, I expect garlic in my face. This dish was mostly green bell pepper. With that said, it was delicious. I don’t generally like bell peppers, but how these were cooked took away the texture that bothers me. The pork was tender and it served well with tortillas. Of the dishes I made from this book, this was my favorite.

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Broiled Garlic and Lemon Chicken p. 177

This recipe was submitted to the book by another resident of Gilroy. The introduction to the recipe says, “Just thinking of the tangy flavor of lemon combined with fresh garlic can get the juices flowing. Add a hint of oregano and you have a marinade for broiled chicken you’ll want to use again and again.” My opinion? The chicken wasn’t bad. Broiling it and basting it made a nice and juicy piece of chicken with a charred exterior… But it wasn’t very garlicky. The chicken was more lemony than anything. Not bad, but not what I’m looking for in a garlic cookbook.

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Rice a la Najar p. 217

This recipe is named after the person who submitted this recipe. Rice can be the star of the meal when cooked to fluffy perfection with chicken stock, tomato juice, garlic, and other seasonings. Bright green peas and plump pink shrimp add color and eye appeal. This was an easy dish, but honestly, it bored me. It tasted like something I would throw together with leftovers in my fridge rather than something I need a recipe for. It wasn’t garlicky enough, it didn’t have enough flavor, and felt like a strange mismatch of ingredients.

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Cauliflower with Garlic Oil p. 38

Our last recipe is from the Vegetables, Salads, and Dressings chapter: This unusual treatment gives cauliflower a delightfully different flavor. Of the four dishes I made, this was probably the most garlicky. But it was very oily. Also, despite being the most garlicky of the four dishes I made, it still could have been more. I liked the idea of having the hardboiled eggs with the cauliflower though – it was at least different.

Overall: As a random mismatch of recipes, the recipes aren’t bad. But unless you are just looking for a cookbook with some random recipes in it, this is not a great book. As the recipes are written, nothing is intensely garlicky, which I would expect from a book with this title. I had high expectations and really was just treated to some recipes that people in Gilroy make at home for dinner. It was nothing special. I’m not sure if I’m even going to keep this book around.

weekend cooking

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10 responses

  1. It’s probably difficult to put together a book like this where there are a bunch of different contributors. Everybody has their own interpretation of the theme.

  2. Ugh. I routinely throw in extra garlic so I would expect a garlic-lovers’ cookbook to be full of big garlicky flavor. I think I’ll pass.

  3. Oh how disappointing! I laughed when I saw the title because my husband is a huge garlic lover so I thought this would be a great book for us but it sounds like that’s definitely not the case. Hopefully you find something yummy and garlic-y soon!

  4. I love garlic but rarely use it since my husband isn’t a fan. This cookbook might be a good choice since! I could make a recipe and keep adding garlic until it’s garlicky enough for me but not to strong for him.

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