Making a First Impression with Roasted Garlic

A few years ago, I was involved with a little Italian girl who moved all her belongings into my house. Yes, we had just taken that fabled step into co-existence/co-dependence. But I ended up essentially storing all her gypsy shit for three months while she ran to Mommy's because she was "confused."

Hey, I can't blame her: Cooking together is one thing; living together is something entirely different.

Or so I've heard.

The point here is that the bitch broke my heart, big-time. And the grieving process for me involved crying a lot, trying to fit into her dresses, and cooking tons of garlic. I guess you could say I loved her. But when I shipped all her crap back to her (which, BTW, she still owes $987 for), she asked only two things when she called: "Why is my turquoise dress ripped?" and "Why does everything reek of garlic?"

No matter what you cook, you can always depend on garlic to linger in the memory. Garlic has been lauded as a magical seasoning for centuries! Hell, it's a standard ingredient in most every Italian recipe ever written. And, of course, Italians are known for romance, suits, leather shoes, and sexy cars that make everyone's pants sticky.

If I had to bet on the one Italian element that yields the biggest bang for the buck (besides that whore), it would be — pants down — garlic. Side note: Never buy an Italian car. Like Italian women, they're sexy as hell and perform great under the hood, but both are going to give you trouble for the rest of your life (or until you get rid of them).

Where was I? Oh, yes: garlic. Garlic is a must, especially for creating ambiance. A candle sets a nice mood, but it usually smells like ass or lavender or something. Hell, you don't want to relax your company into an aromatherapy stupor — you want to excite their passion.

Even before your company arrives, I suggest you sauté some garlic. Take a nice bulb and separate four to five plump cloves on a cutting board. Cut away the small root end, and then smash the clove with the blunt blade of the knife (smashing the clove makes it easy to peel). Once the clove is flattened, drop it in a small glass of water then peel them one by one until they're all naked. A gourmet buddy of mine taught me this trick — the water helps rinse the oils that eat away your skin, and your fingers won't smell for days.

Wash your hands, then finely chop the fresh cloves and sauté them over a medium heat in fresh butter or virgin olive oil — hopefully the only thing "virgin" you'll see all night! (Really, who wants to be with a virgin? What a mess! What a pain! What emotional turmoil!)

Anyway, back to the garlic, hissing away in the pan for five minutes or until it starts to turn golden brown. Don't overcook it, and be sure to take it off the heat because it will keep cooking, and the smell of burnt garlic doesn't inspire the sexy time.

Speaking of smell, most people stay away from garlic because they're afraid it will repel the opposite sex. Personally, I think this is B.S., especially if you're both going to eat the same dish. On a tangent, if you don't smoke and you kiss a smoker, it's like kissing an ashtray. But if you both smoke, neither notices the deathly tang. Hell, if your date doesn't like garlic, then you should dump his or her sorry ass. Might as well put it to the test on the first date. Chances are, if your date doesn't like garlic, he or she won't go down on you either.

If you aren't down with the sauté scene, then simply take a whole bulb and lop off the tops of all the cloves (the pointed end of the bulb). Pour a few teaspoons of olive oil over the whole thing, wrap it in foil, and cook at 375 for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Then just pop it out of the foil and you can squeeze the buttery soft cloves onto a toasted baguette and serve as an easy appetizer.

The goal here is to infuse every inch of your air space with the lovely, pungent aroma of sweet garlic. Gastronomically speaking, this will shoot loads of fluid through your date's duct work, and probably have her drooling right there on the spot. No matter how you're dressed, or how your place looks, she will be impressed. You always want to make a stellar first impression, and the waft of garlic will cloud her mind and get her lubed up and ready to devour anything you put in front of her . . . anything.

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C.M. Redding
Contact: C.M. Redding