Curried garlic

diana nick ashridge 090

I recoiled as I opened the door. There had, quite apparently, been garlic the night before. Lots of garlic. Evidently in curry. And there can be few things worse than second-hand garlic, except, perhaps, walking, all unsuspecting, into a small, hermetically sealed room where the stuff has been exuded from every pore overnight. My tormentor laughed at the groans that escaped me, in spite of my attempts to hold my breath, as I beat a hasty retreat after diving for the window and throwing it wide open. I wasn’t going back till the miasma had cleared.

Those who say that garlic is good for you have evidently never encountered the phenomenon of the exudation of the stuff overnight. It may indeed have many health benefits, including as an antibacterial. Certainly nothing, even as virulent as a virus, could have survived in that room.

He, of course, had enjoyed the meal and was so habituated to the gradual garlic infestation of his environs that he was unaware of it. I had detected vague precursors to the pollution of his airspace as soon as I had opened the front door to let myself in, of course; but the sheer scale and venomous stench of the stuff was overpowering. Especially so early in the morning. Though I was fairly glad I’d only gulped down a coffee before the taxi arrived to take me to his home. Breakfast and I would otherwise have undoubtedly parted company.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like garlic. Properly used as a condiment it is rather like salt…barely noticeable; enhancing, rather than adding, flavour in a dish. As an ingredient, it adds a wonderful freshness and distinctive character. As a curried-morning-after-the-night-before, it is, however, vile.

The stench, for I cannot call it by a lesser name, holds memories for me. Vague wafts of the Parisian Metro at rush hour, coupled with its own distinctive smell of sulphur, as if the underground train runs through the bowels of Hell instead of beneath the steps of heaven. The doctor whose face was, for hours, inches from mine as he stitched it back together again. The desperation of mint and fresh parsley when a first date came immediately after a garlic and green bean salad… I have memories of garlic. And those that sprang to mind, elicited from the depths, were, it has to be said, none of them good.

My tormentor, however, having thoroughly enjoyed the meal the night before, was blithely unconscious of the effects of his allium indulgence. Until those effects were made abundantly apparent by my reactions to the olfactory assault. His hilarity was not, however, consummate with own state of mind and body by this point, as said body went into flight mode and headed for the open door…

A little garlic, I can cope with. It is easy to simply ignore and you become so accustomed to it, in small quantities, that you soon barely notice its presence. It becomes part of the atmosphere. It is easy too, to fail to notice another person’s memorial garlic, when you have shared the platter with them, or eaten a similar one of your own creation. One’s own level of exudation, however, remains often undetected.

I could, however, see an analogy in that as I breathed the fresh, clean air on his doorstep; wondering how often we can all create situations whose chain-reactions ripple through the lives of those around us, while we ourselves remain unconscious, like the toxic exhalation of curried garlic previously enjoyed… until something snaps, bends or breaks… and metaphorical fresh air is not always so easy to find. We do what we do, without malice, without any intention of causing potential harm or indeed discomfort to others, yet we cannot always foresee the effects of our behaviour until it becomes a cause of regret.

Rather like eating too much curried garlic.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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36 Responses to Curried garlic

  1. Great analogy. Better than the tired pebble and ripples one I’ve overused. I may steal it or at least sort of borrow it.


  2. jenanita01 says:

    I do like the smell of garlic, but only when it occurs in Nature, never on someones breath or body. We have a very peaceful river walk near us, and at this time of year is usually knee deep in wild garlic, just like your photograph.


  3. That sounds like a very powerful odor. Hear I get frustrated after cooking with garlic and the smell not leaving my hands. Interesting analogy too. We seem to always think a person is conscious of every effect their actions have. But you’re so right that a person might only see the good. I know I’ve been there and getting out of the situation is not easy.


  4. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:


  5. it is my ambrosia


  6. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    I love garlic but as this post from Sue Vincent illustrates whilst those consuming on a daily basis might not notice the aroma to the same extent it can have an overwhelming effect on others – a bit like words and deeds.


  7. Eliza Waters says:

    LOL! I often wonder how often I do this to others as I eat hummus every day, I love it so. Since I’m way beyond dating, I don’t worry about social rejection all that much. Only children are honest enough to give their opinion on the matter, adults simply shift out of range. 😉
    I like your photo of wild ramsons, A. ursinum – so lush and green! We have similar over here called ramps, A. tricoccum. (The common name must have come from English settlers.) The difference is that our foliage dies before the blooms emerge. (Love to learn something new every day!) They are good to add to soups and our local miso company makes a special batch every year using ramps. Wild patches here are jealously guarded by foragers and no one divulges their favorite patch. Survival of the fittest! 😉


    • Sue Vincent says:

      I will never forget that night, meeting my future husband for our first proper date in Paris, after I had come home from Corsica, expecting never to see him again. I knew nothing of the vitriol of fresh garlic in quantity… and the salad my boss made for dinner was amazing… but honestly… NOT for a first date 😀
      I believe we still call your ramps ‘rampion’ here.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love garlic but I know how horrible it can be when only one of you in the room has enjoyed it.
    Charles, try a little salt and lemon juice and rub your hands together. My mother always used this trick.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ugh! I can smell it now. And I’m Italian.


  10. Sue, I love this! (The writing, not the stench!)
    I’m here from Smorgasbord’s re-blogging.


  11. noelleg44 says:

    Great way you tied it up in a bow at the end! Riding the trams in Prague in the early morning, windows shut, little air moving and the stench of BO, garlic and beer (yup,beer!) was frequently bad enough to make me get off and walk!


  12. I have the same problem with Chilly oil. I love the stuff, and so does my body which tries it best to keep hold of the effects for as long as it can, much to the dismay of my partner!


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