Anthony Bourdain on Garlic


anthony bourdain

Respect the Garlic!

In his 2000 book Kitchen Confidential (updated 2007), Anthony Bourdain pulled the shades back on the culinary industry for all to see.  Some villianized him for that and some felt he delivered the wake up call the industry sorely needed.   Some consider him an asshole, while others appreciate his straight forward candor and the occasional often use of the F-bomb.  I happen to fall in the latter category.  Love him or hate him, there is no question he has his own unique style.

From his book, Bourdain had this to say about garlic:

“Garlic is divine. Few food items can taste so many distinct ways, handled correctly. Misuse of garlic is a crime. Old garlic, burnt garlic, garlic cut too long ago and garlic that has been tragically smashed through one of those abominations, the garlic press, are all disgusting. Please treat your garlic with respect. Sliver it for pasta, like you saw in Goodfellas; don’t burn it. Smash it, with the flat of your knife blade if you like, but don’t put it through a press. I don’t know what that junk is that squeezes out the end of those things, but it ain’t garlic. And try roasting garlic. It gets mellower and sweeter if you roast it whole, still on the clove, to be squeezed out later when it’s soft and brown. Nothing will permeate your food more irrevocably and irreparably than burnt or rancid garlic. Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screw-top jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don’t deserve to eat garlic.”

I have to admit, I agree with pretty much everything he says.  Well not so much the not deserving to eat garlic.  That seems a tad harsh.

Respect the garlic

I have definitely learned this the hard way.  From the time I thought using garlic that was sprouting was OK, fyi it is not.  To the the time I tried to make Pad Thai and had the wok at surface of the sun temp before throwing garlic in.  Yeah – that was like 5th level of the underworld burnt.  Had to wash out the wok and try again.

Garlic Press

I like to keep things pretty simple when working with garlic.  A good chef’s knife is all I need to transform garlic into any consistency needed from paste to slivers.  I have tried to use a garlic press once or twice. More than likely it was totally user error but I found it took longer to clean the press than to actually use it.  I didn’t quite like the consistency of the garlic either.  Some folks have no problem using a press – to which I say more power to you.

Roasting Garlic

Sweet, nutty, deliciousness. Enough said.

Screw Top Garlic

I admit I have tried the pre-minced garlic in a jar.  I found it did not have nearly the flavor punch of fresh garlic and I had to use a lot more of it to get in the ball park of the desired flavor.  I am a fresh garlic junkie now and just can’t bring myself to use the jarred product anymore. Most of the sports complexes serving garlic fries use the jarred product – which I suppose makes sense from an economical point of view but still produces a duller flavor.

So what about you?  Do you agree with Anthony?  Disagree?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.


  1. This article isn’t very new. But the topic is still as current as ever. I found it doing some search for garlic powder, which I personnaly hate to use.
    I agree whith Anthoy, use garlic with respect


  1. […] a while back I forced myself to discard my garlic press (which probably had something to do with Anthony Bourdain) and learn how to mince garlic properly, righteous nose in the air and all. Flattening it with […]

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