Monday, May 31, 2010

Eating alone—with garlic breath

So, sadly, my fiancé departed this afternoon to finish his job in Cleveland.  I’m in Texas alone.  Sad, but not that sad.  Alone time is awesome.  Considering I know about zero people in Dallas, besides the Patron promotional model who I met at the apartment pool, I’m hunkering down with my sweet self for some introspective, reflective, pampering “me” time.

People always tell me that they don’t cook because they don’t like cooking for one.  I love cooking for myself!  Considering I am the most important person in my life, I like getting the chance to whip up a quick dinner and curl up with the remote and watch whatever the hurk I want to watch (which would usually be PBS but considering we just got cable might just be the Keeping Up with the Kardashians marathon) or messily opening up the sewing machine.  I love that I can eat all of the food if I want to with nobody judging, that I can eat it out of the pot with a serving spoon, and that I can lick the countertops if I please. 

So tonight I’m making the perfect kind of meal for one.  It’s quick, easy, healthy and delicious and gives you really stinky garlic breath.  This way you can be in allium ecstasy and nobody will mind, expect maybe your cat if you have one.  The physiology of garlic breath is quite interesting.

Garlic breath comes from a combination the breakdown of garlic in the mouth and in the gut into sulfur containing compounds, ie stinky.  Many of the compounds can be rid of by brushing the teeth, but one major compound called allyl methyl disulfide (AMS) is absorbed by the gut, diffused into the blood and gives off the classic garlic breath smell.  It is thought that the liver metabolizes all other sulfur by-products of garlic breakdown with “first pass metabolism” but that AMS lingers on in the blood.  Ultimately, the AMS compounds stick around for a long time and are exhaled which is why teeth brushing doesn’t help garlic breath [1].

Breathe easy—your halitosis is acceptable.  Tonight I made my favorite Thai dish, which I ate every day when my fiancé and I were in Thailand a few years ago.  Yes, the recipe does say six cloves of garlic.  I also made a Thai inspired coleslaw/cabbage salad which cuts the salt and spice of the main course and gives a lovely, refreshing crunch.   A lot of the ingredients are purchased in an Asian specialty store such as holy basil and long beans, but I will give acceptable substitutions.  The only thing that is necessary is fish sauce.  Without fish sauce, it’s not Thai.  The recipe yields two servings, so you can pack up the other half for a delicious lunch, or you can torture your friend or lover with your stinky mouth.

Cooking for one (recipes actually serve 2)
Thai green bean basil

1 tbsp veggie oil
½ pound ground beef (or chicken or pork or tofu)
6 cloves garlic
1 large shallot
4 thai chilis (or more) seeded and chopped
1 ½ cups chopped long beans (or green beans)
2 ½ tbsp fish sauce
1 ½ tbsp soy sauce
Juice of one small lime
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup packed holy basil leaves (or regular basil)

To prep: using mortar and pestle or knife, pound garlic and shallots to a rough pulp.  In a bowl mix fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar and lime juice.  Make sure all ingredients are chopped and ready once you start because will cook very quickly.  Over high heat, heat wok or cast iron pan and add oil until smoking.  When smoking, add beef and garlic and shallots until beef is cooked and shallots are slightly translucent.  Add beans and chilies and cook until beans are slightly tender.  Add sauce, stir constantly, add basil until wilted.

Thai style cabbage salad

¼ head cabbage
¼ cup mint finely chopped
1 cup sugar snap peas
¼ cup baby carrots

Juice of 2 small limes. 
3 tbsp fish sauce.
1 tsp sugar
½ inch ginger root peeled and grated
¼ cup veggie oil
Splash sesame oil

Core cabbage and slice into thin pieces.  Thinly slice peas and carrots.  Add mint.  Add dressing.  Mix and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to let flavors meld.

Serve dinner with rice. 

1. Suarez, F.; Springfield, J.; Furne, J.; Levitt, M. “Differentiation of mouth versus gut as site of origin of odoriferous breath gases after garlic ingestion.” American Journal of Physiology, v. 276 issue 2 Pt 1, 1999, p. G425-30.


  1. This sounds great. I hope you enjoy your alone time in Big D.

  2. Thanks for the great recipe! (and the lesson about garlic breath!)