One of the most important ingredients in all of the culinary arts, garlic nevertheless seems to defy or transcend, attempts to define it in any but the most literal of terms. In that sense, then, garlic, like onions, shallots, and leeks, is a member of the lily family.
Intensely and uniquely flavorful and aromatic, garlic is used in virtually every cuisine in the world, including nearly every form of Asian, European, African, Latin American and North American cooking.
Garlic grows underground in the form of a bulb, from which long green shoots emerge from the top while its roots extend downward.
The garlic bulb is covered in a papery skin which is inedible. The bulb, or head, is in turn comprised of individual sections called cloves. The cloves are themselves enclosed in the same paper like skin, and the pale yellowish flesh within is the part of the garlic that is used in cooking.
Garlic has a powerful, pungent flavor when eaten raw. For that reason, it’s customary to cook garlic in some way before eating it, which mellows the flavor considerably. Garlic is generally used as a flavoring ingredient in recipes rather than as the main ingredient itself, although roasted garlic can be eaten as a spread or condiment.