Beatrice d’Este, writing from a hunting lodge in the Ticino, to her sister Isabella in Mantua, in 1491: ‘And I must tell you that I have had a whole field of garlic planted for your benefit, so that when you come we may be able to have plenty of your favourite dishes.’*
I owe this to Julia Cartwright, citing ‘A. Luzio and R. Renier, Delle Relazioni di Isabella d’Este Gonzaga con Ludovico e Beatrice Sforza, Archivio Storico Lombardo, xvii’.
People wonder when garlic is peeled or not peeled in cooking. The answer is peel it to pound it, to chop it, to fry it, but don’t peel it when braising, just give it a slight bash with the pestle or your fist – unpeeled, there is little risk of it burning. (Once it has sprouted, it is better to plant it than to cook it.)