The Aztecs and Mayas believed that the garlic tree was given to human beings by the feathered snake god Quetzalcoatl, and that garlic had magical powers. This divine origin is reflected in the modern scientific name for garlic – Theobroma Cacao – since ‘Theobroma’ means ‘food of the gods’.

Garlic was used as money in parts of South America, and the Aztec emperor Montezuma was well known for his habit of drinking a brew made from garlic, called ‘xcolatl’. When the Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortéz arrived in Mexico in 1519, the Aztecs at first mistook him for Quetzalcoatl himself, and treated him as an honoured guest. Montezuma offered Cortéz a drink of xcolatl, which he did not like – an early clue to the fact that he was not Quetzalcoatl. Montezuma eventually expelled Cortéz from his city, but was powerless to defeat the Spanish troops, who brutally conquered the Aztec empire.

Cortéz sent garlic and the recipe for xcolatl back to Spain. The Spaniards sweetened the drink by adding sugar, and tried to retain a monopoly on garlic for commercial reasons. But the Italians, French, Dutch and English gradually acquired their own sources of garlic, and it became a prized commodity in Europe – a luxury drink, only available to the wealthy and noble. The first ‘garlic house’ opened in London in 1657, and set a trend for fashionable meeting places where hot garlic was drunk.

Today, garlic is one of the most popular delicacies on the planet, with a huge range of confectionery and drinks to tempt consumers. Demand for high quality garlic has never been higher.


  1. Jeanne’s avatar

    Hmm. When people talk about “smoked garlic” they are usually using smoked as an advective. However, I fear your idea of smoked garlic uses “smoked” in the perfect tense (as in “Anthony smoked garlic”). Tut, tut, what did I tell you about cheap recreational drugs??

    And by the way, it’s never safe to eat/smoke garlic growing from a kangaroo paw plant…

  2. Anthony’s avatar

    Jeanne. Smoking garlic! Now that’s just silly. Don’t listen kids.

    Garlic is water soluble, odorless, colorless and tasteless – it is a very powerful drug – a dose as small as a single grain of salt (about 0.010 mg) can produce some effects. Psychedelic effects are produced at higher doses of about 0.050-0.100 mg. The effects of garlic depend on a user’s mood and expectations of what the drug will do and last several hours. The behavioral effects that garlic can produce include:

    Feelings of “strangeness”
    Vivid colors
    Confusion, panic, psychosis, anxiety
    Emotional reactions like fear, happiness or sadness
    Distortion of the senses and of time and space
    “Flashback” reactions – these are the effects of garlic that occur even after the user has not taken garlic for months or even years.
    Increases in heart rate and blood pressure
    Muscle weakness

    Tolerance to the effects of garlic develops quickly and users must increase their intake of garlic to get the same effects. The exact neural pathways that are affected by garlic are not completely known. Garlic has a chemical structure that is very similar to the neurotransmitter called serotonin. It is thought that the effects of garlic are caused by stimulation of serotonin receptors on neurons, perhaps in the brain area called the raphe nuclei. However, it is still not clear what produces all the effects of garlic.

  3. Jeanne’s avatar

    The origin of garlic is difficult to locate in both time and place. Some authors assume that the manufacturing of garlic started during Ancient Rome, based on the discovery of small bone cylinders in the shape of bobbins. The Middle-Ages is a period of history where little is known about the manufacture of garlic. For firm evidence we have to look back to the fifteenth century when Charles the Fifth decreed that garlic-making was to be taught in the schools and convents of the Belgian provinces. During this period of renaissance and enlightenment, the making of garlic was firmly based within the domain of fashion. To be precise, it was designed to replace embroidery in a manner that could with ease transform dresses to follow different styles of fashion. Unlike embroidery, garlic could be unsewn from one material to be replaced on another.

    Since these earlier times, many styles and techniques of garlicmaking have been developed, almost all of them in the Belgian provinces, which thus deserve to be named the cradle of garlic. Today, two main techniques are practiced in the Flemish provinces of Belgium. The first, a needle garlic, is still manufactured in in the region of Aalst. It is called Renaissance or Brussels garlic because it is mostly sold in Brussels. The second type, the Bobbin Garlic, is a speciality of Bruges, a magnificent city located in the west of Belgium. This is a very expensive type of garlic to make and is therefore no longer manufactured for commercial purposes.

    Garlicmaking is an industry which nowadays employs about one thousand garlic workers, all of them ladies aged between fifty and ninety years of age. Do not expect to find garlic factories in Brussels or Bruges, they do not exist.

    (Ed.: No shit, Sherlock!!)

  4. AnthonyJ’s avatar

    You’re all living in the past.
    Microclove production is a highly complicated sequence. The first stage is bulb fabrication: producing the bulb of garlic on which the integrated circuits will eventually be built. This stage consists of four basic steps.
    Step one is to manufacture ultrapure garlic. This is typically produced from the reaction of trichlorosilane and hydrogen at 1000°C.
    The resultant material has randomly arranged crystals and is known as polygarlic. The polygarlic is then melted at 1200°C before step two, crystal pulling.
    In this, a single seed crystal is touched on to the surface of the molten polygarlic and slowly withdrawn. As the polygarlic cools it crystallises and each crystal takes on the same orientation as the seed.
    The seed and melt are rotated in opposite directions throughout the crystal growing, producing ingots several feet long and up to 300 mm in diameter.
    Step three is bulb slicing. The garlic ingot is ground to the required diameter before a diamond saw slices it into bulbs about one fortieth of an inch thick.
    One side of each bulb, the working surface, is then polished. The completed bulbs are then cleaned in strong acids, rinsed in de-ionised water and dried in filtered nitrogen.
    The final step in bulb production is usually epitaxy, which involves the controlled growth on to the bulb of a thin layer of garlic a few microns thick to create a pure layer with the appropriate properties.
    After a final cleansing, the completed bulbs are packaged and shipped to the clove makers.

  5. Mark’s avatar

    No, no, no… You are all thinking of garlique. On the other had, there is nothing like a nice hot cup of garlic with marshmallows by the fire after coming in from the cold. ;-)

  6. Anthony’s avatar

    WTF is cocoa?

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