.I first stumbled onto what I'm bringing up (regarding garlic) a couple of years ago with a tool called a "Garlic Genius" I bought 2 of them because I was so impressed with the output (a fine micro-dice of garlic). The first one died in a month and a half and the second one lasted a bit longer. The unit was designed by the engineering community ... the "Oh! I didn't know you actually wanted it to work" gang. It was stainless steel outside (where it didn't count) and inside were a set of fragile teflon or plastic 'threads' that the cutter spiraled down on. If you cut one head of garlic a month it would have been great but any more serious use of it? Fuggetaboutit. So I wrote it off.
Rosle, this year, apparantly bought the rights to the design and has knocked off a clone which ... has the same el cheapo threads inside and will go "south": as quick as the "Garlic Genius" did. I actually contacted Rosle hoping to keep them from releasing a new product with the same design mistakes in it that the Garlic Genius did. I sent my old blown out Genius to their marketing people to hand off to the design engineers from Germany. No great surprise .. the engineers must have dead-panned the issue and I received no further response / reactions from any of the company (gee! I wonder if the engineers didn't want to have their management know that they'd blessed off on an acquisition of a defective design ... you think?) and they've released the "new" product to the market. Their loss ... Rosle does lifetime guarantees ... they're going to be eating a lot of product in the form of customer returns from dissatisfied buyers.
Since then, I've been playing with a prototype of a garlic 'cutter' from Denmark. The kids who made it took some additional design suggestions from me in process of spinning out final prototypes. It fits the hand well, does the same "cube cut" that the "garlic genius" did without the added complications / machinations of the erstatz "storage chamber". (so you can store peeled garlic in the 'Fridge and have it go stale till you're ready to use it). Garlic / allicin (even just peeled not cut) begins to change flavour immediately. , if garlic According to Harold McGee in 'On Food and Cooking',
"... garlic contains odorless (under normal conditions)compounds derived from the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine. When the garlic tissue's cells are disrupted (cut, smashed, microplaned), this amino acid compound is brought into contact with an enzyme which converts it into molecules of ammonia, pyruvic acid and a mildly garlicky but unstable compound. This in turn breaks down into diallyl sulfide, the major and powerful constituent of garlic odor" ...
So, when it is crushed, the delicate "good" flavours will quickly be converted into the bitter sulfur compound Diallyl disulfide (DADS or 4,5-dithia-1,7-octadiene) before they reach the taste buds. Sous, and Line Chefs for years, have dealt with skin reactions to DADS from prepping raw garlic. On my first attempt to test out my conclusions from intellectual research into practice, I had some steak gravy left the other night and made some fusilli to toss it with. I put black, white and green pepper, pimenton, Tumeric, diced leeks in the condimento. Flavours that would stand out from each other.
As they were cooking .. I prepped an whole (large) head of garlic with the device. I put that in with the whole bag of pasta in the last 2 minutes? and when you ate it? there was a delicate taste of garlic ... not an overpowering harshness like it would have been if it had been put through a garlic 'press' much less allowed to oxidize. And as importantly, the other flavours were not overwhelmed.
A friend who's currently in food service (distribution level) opined that you could do the same thing with a sharp knife but I think not. The unit I'm playing with has micro grid cutters and you are going to 'crush' far, far more of the cell walls of the garlic cutting it even with a sharp knife. One of the most interesting facets of this is that what I discover is that the oxidized compound (in the crushed garlic), Diallyl disulfide is actually an allergen, not just a strong taste. People's reaction to it (negative) is likely to be because of that. How many people pass on dishes that have "crushed" garlic in them thinking the dish is just 'distasteful' and don't realize that they are reacting to a mild allergenic 'reaction'. How many times on the "line" having turned over a test dish to the "Capo" / Jefé de Cocina / Chef de Cusine? did I have it shoved back in my face with "do it over ... too much garlic, I can't taste anything else."?
So .. I guess I'm asking if what I'm talking about is "intuitively obvious" and I've just been blind to it all these years ( "Preparing garlic for people with actual tastebuds".) or what other folks reaction is to these observations.? jccampb