What makes garlic and onion bulbs special that makes them so good to cook with? Is there a reason other than taste that stops me from trying to cook with all the different species of bulbs?

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What makes garlic and onion bulbs special that makes them so good to cook with? Is there a reason other than taste that stops me from trying to cook with all the different species of bulbs?

In: Biology
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I think you are underestimating the range of species of bulbs we use for cooking. There is only a few that is known to contain poisons but this still do not prevent us from using them in small amounts.

Onions and garlic share a family classification with other types of lilies that have similar bulbs.

The problem is that most lilies are poisonous to humans. Onions and garlic are actually the exceptions that we can consume (but they are also toxic to our furry pets). They are unique because they give a onion-y or garlic-y smell while other lilies do not.

You wouldn’t want to eat bulbs at random, since some of them are toxic. Daffodil bulbs are toxic, for example.

The fact that they’re both bulbs doesn’t mean that anything bulb-shaped is either tasty or safe.

Onions and garlic are both in the same family, “allium”. Several other alliums are also edible and share broadly similar flavor profiles: scallions, shallots, and chives, for example. To be clear though, there are poisonous alliums too – the entire family isn’t generically safe.

They just have strong umami flavours which come from naturally occurring glutamate. Kinda like how MSG makes food taste better. And they release sugars during the cooking for process which adds to the intense and complex flavours. Also smell makes up a good portion of taste perception,and garlic is fragrant

They have a lot of sweetness but it’s balanced with it’s pungency and acidity. It helps to establish a rich base flavor to build upon with the rest of the ingredients.

I’ve also noticed that it seems to be the one thing all cultures around the world have in common (when it comes to food) historically. Wonder if they all too the risks by eating the random “smelly” bulbs lol

There are definitely serious practical

-can last long because they’re dry bulbs, even in the days before fridges

-super easy to grow in the garden, as animals don’t predate them. Also, garlic is easier to grow because it starts as bulbs rather than seeds. Both these things keep prices low

I figure that these big deal practical considerations historically kept them popular in the kitchen , and then now it’s still a holdover. I mean, at least partly. Nobody can deny their flavors rock