Humans are wired to recall experiences in life as a means of survival. Our minds also preserhttps://nectarambrosia.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=5395&action=editve experiences in a unique way… we remember the first time as well as the last time we encounter a dynamic, meaningful, or otherwise impressive experience. One such memorable experience will definitely come your way the first time you experience skordalia.
Ancient Greeks believed their mythological gods gave mere mortals skordo (garlic). While you may think skordo was created to enhance the aroma and taste of food… ancient Greeks knew that garlic IS food. In their infinite wisdom, the gods designed garlic so it may be prepared several ways, with perhaps their greatest conception being its transformation into that unique Greek ambrosia known as skordalia.
At the same time, Mount Olympus banned food processors by decree from ancient Greek koozeenes (kitchens). Their modern use would eventually be permitted but relegated solely to making Margaritas and other Olympus-approved, experience-generating ambrosia. But we digress…
Knowledge of garlic as a fine food makes you a connoisseur. Let us examine a very special ambrosia. You see, the chef who performs with garlic is a serious professional. It begins with the search for the perfectly potent bulb harvested in the full moon of months containing two letters which only exist in the Greek alphabet. The tools required to create skordalia are simple: the mortar and pestle place second only to the small sharp knife used to inspect and dissect wedges of select garlic cloves… for not all garlic cloves are created equal even though their coincidental acceptance as a component of democracy predated “ballot-and-shard.” Rejected wedges are destined for the oven. Skordalia is a refined food. Devour it any way you wish, but do NOT refer to it as humus… an undeserving indignity for this exquisite staff of Greek life.
Pestle-and-mortar operators understand the emotional passion, revenge and irony required to pulverize garlic to the ideal consistency found in a properly-textured skordalia. Garlic “microbits” of natural proportion are not a scientific measure, yet none will find a spot in gum-nor-denture. Skordalia’s taste lingers as natural digestion satisfies you, perhaps until the next meal. Chef knows best when it’s time to cease beating, crunching and mashing the tamed garlic. Resultant juice and pulp prove nature’s compatibility with man. When properly prepared, the unique spread’s flavor is discoverable in only three places on the underside of the human tongue. Neurons bring to the brain cognizance of a stimulatingly unique garlic blend of potato, lemon juice, olive oil and sea-salt. The very stuff we are made of and thrive-on… and the reason it has been said that garlic is love.
The gods told us to avoid the lover who repulses the fragrance of garlic. Rejection of garlic on the breath originated as a mid-19th century Western ploy, when toothpaste manufacturers began marketing their product. To this day, none have managed to destroy the ever-present romantic scent of garlic.
Skordo’s health benefits are too numerous to mention. Garlic is all-natural ambrosia. You’ll find the first hit of skordalia to be a near main-line experience. Days, or maybe just hours later, the habit is born and an addiction follows.
Skordalia. Look for it on the menu, or ask your waiter. Remember. Garlic is good for you.
Irene’s Skordalia Recipe
- 2 medium russet potatoes (about 1 pound; 450g), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- Kosher salt
- 3 ounces whole blanched almonds (1/2 cup; 85g)
- 4 to 6 medium cloves garlic (see note above)
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (90ml) white wine vinegar and/or fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons; see note above)
- 3/4 cup (180ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- Minced flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
- Warmed pita and/or bread, for serving
Preheat oven to 350°F. Set cubed potatoes in a colander and rinse under cold water until water runs clear. Transfer to a large saucepan and cover with cold water by at least 2 inches. Bring water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until a knife easily pierces potatoes with no resistance, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain potatoes in colander, then rinse with hot running water for 30 seconds.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine almonds, garlic, 2 tablespoons (30ml) cold water, and wine vinegar and/or lemon juice. Process until garlic and almonds are reduced to a paste. Season with salt.
Spread potatoes in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and transfer to oven until excess moisture has evaporated and surface of potatoes is dry, about 6 minutes.
Using a potato ricer or a food mill with the finest disk, mash potatoes into a large mixing bowl. Alternatively, thoroughly mash potatoes with a potato masher in a large mixing bowl.
Stir in olive oil and almond-garlic mixture until thoroughly incorporated. If skordalia looks like it’s breaking slightly (i.e., if the oil does not fully incorporate to form a homogeneous mixture), stir in more cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well, until mixture is emulsified. Season with salt, then garnish with parsley and serve immediately with warm pita or bread, or chill until ready to serve.