Fat, fragrant cloves of garlic, six or seven at a time, were often sautéed whole with foods in my mother’s kitchen. No one bothered to fish them out before serving—whoever unearthed the little treasures from a pile of chicken was as much to be envied as the one who landed the wishbone.
As a teenager, I was smugly pleased to read that some food savant dubbed garlic “the ketchup of the intellectuals,” gratified that I had been nurtured since babyhood to stand with Camus and Huysmans.
Readers who have noticed my lavish use of the “stinking rose” will note such love is not merely familial—it is ancestral. Stoked with Pharaoh’s garlic when forced to build his pyramids, Jews loved it still when wandering in the desert and pined for it as much as for the winy, thirst-quenching pomegranates they had left behind.
In these knishes, where phyllo substitutes for the traditional pastry dough, light and fluffy garlic mashed potatoes stand in for the accustomed onion-potato filling. The garlic does not stop there, however. It is used to flavor the melted butter brushed so deliciously between each flaky phyllo layer.
© 2000 Jayne Cohen. All rights reserved.