UAlbany's garlic guy

eric block allium bookThe work of UAlbany chemistry professor Eric Block is the main dish in a NYT piece today by Harold McGee, the creme de la creme of food science writers.

Block is an expert on alliums -- that is, plants such as onions and garlic. From McGee's piece:

"It's still astounding to me what happens when you cut or bite into an onion or a garlic clove," Dr. Block told me in a telephone conversation last month. "These plants originated in a very tough neighborhood, in Central Asia north of Afghanistan, and they evolved some serious chemical weapons to defend themselves."
Their sulfur-based defense systems give the alliums their distinctive flavors. The plants deploy them when their tissues are breached by biting, crushing or cutting. The chemicals are highly irritating, and discourage most creatures from coming back for seconds. They kill microbes and repel insects, and they damage the red blood cells of dogs and cats. Never feed a pet onions or garlic in any form. ...
Dr. Block explains that different alliums stockpile different sulfur chemicals to make their weapons, and this accounts for their varying flavors. The stockpiles themselves are inert, but when the plant's tissues are damaged, enzymes in the tissues quickly convert the sulfur compounds into reactive, stinging molecules.

There a bunch of interesting bits in the article -- whether you cook, or just eat.

Block wrote a recently-published book about alliums, Garlic and Other Alliums: The Lore and the Science. The book blurb says it "outlines the extensive history and the fascinating past and present uses of these plants."

Block co-authored a 2007 paper in the Archives of Internal Medicine that reported the neither raw garlic nor garlic supplements appeared to have clinically significant effects on cholesterol levels in people.

[via @ualbany]

Comments

Anyone who knows me, realizes that this book is now on my birthday/xmas list.

Cool, EJ Corey is a nobel laureate in chemistry (organic) and just to see his name on the book makes me want to read it.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

Search

Recently on All Over Albany

Morning Blend

Family separations and New York + Andrew Cuomo asserted Thursday that as governor he has a "legal responsibility for the health and welfare of children... (more)

The Capital Region's home ownership rate ticked upward last year for the first time in a while

Another few bits for the apartments / rents discussion... The home ownership rate in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy metro area ticked upward for the first time since... (more)

Stuff to do this weekend

Welcome to summer. Have a lemonade and some freshly-picked stuff to do. There's baseball, strawberries, jazz, wine ... all kinds of fun things to make... (more)

Dog poop is a universal issue

One of the bits from this Ian Bogost article about the topics that frequently pop up on Nextdoor: The dog-pop-in-other-people's-trash-cans issue is everywhere and all... (more)

No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

Tucked in at the end of a state Department of Environmental Conservation digest of agency police officer encounters -- titled "Strange Rattle in the Engine... (more)

Recent Comments

I don't think that's what's meant by "serpentine belt replacement".

Stuff to do this weekend

...has 2 comments, most recently from Chris

The Capital Region's home ownership rate ticked upward last year for the first time in a while

...has 1 comment, most recently from Mike

No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

...has 2 comments, most recently from Ellen

Albany City Hall carillon concerts

...has 1 comment, most recently from Tim

Where to take foreign language classes

...has 6 comments, most recently from BrĂ­d