Like onions, leeks and chives, garlic is a member of the lily (or allium) family. The head is comprised of 12-15 cloves, each encased in papery skin.
While it may be best known for warding off vampires, its more practical health benefits include lowering blood cholesterol and antiseptic properties.
IN THE KITCHEN
There are several recipes in which garlic takes centre stage rather than a supporting flavouring role - perhaps most famously French chicken roast with 40 cloves of garlic. Garlic soup has a surprisingly soft sweet-savoury flavour yet uses around half a head per person.
Aïoli, the rich, garlic-laden mayonnaise-like sauce from the South of France, is eaten with a wide range of accompaniments including boiled potatoes, artichokes, carrots, chicken and salt cod. In Greece, skordalia, a sauce of potatoes, olive oil and garlic, is served with fish and vegetables. Also worth noting are the pungent garlic pickles of India and the Middle East.