Allium sativum: Delicious and Pungent

Every other week, our dorm kitchen manager chastises us on the stinky state of our kitchenette.  As someone with little culinary expertise, I rely solely on the efforts of the dining hall chefs for nourishment and nutrition, and have never stepped into the mysterious enigma that is our kitchenette. One day, driven by curiosity (and hunger), I decided to check out the kitchenette and see if there was any communal food I could snack on. Opening the refrigerator, I was hit with a very strong smell. Sliding the drawers, I found the culprit: garlic. Using tweezers, I carefully extracted a sample of garlic skin and observed it under my Foldscope.

I noticed that the skin of the garlic had very small veins that were intertwined. I hypothesized that these veins were actually the outlines of cell walls. Upon further reading, I learned that this skin is referred to as “tunic”, and mimics the protective outer covering of another delicious yet pungent ingredient: onion.

I also observed larger veins in the garlic skin. These larger veins were much thicker, yet found in much less quantity, than the smaller veins.

I also learned that in most cultures, the garlic skin is discarded. However, I discovered that in Korea, my own culture, sometimes garlic is used without removing the garlic skin. Garlic skin is thought to have many health effects, and many people advocate for saving the garlic skin as opposed to simply peeling it and throwing it away.

Although I did not find any snacks in the refrigerator, I certainly learned more about this underappreciated ingredient.

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