Often when I tell people that I don't eat garlic, they're surprised. "You don't like garlic?!" they exclaim. "But it's so good! What's wrong with you?" usually follows (at least the thought is there). Well I have a confession to make, it's not that I hate garlic, it's that I'm avoiding it on purpose. This is my protest, and here's why:
There's an assault on the palettes of Americans these days, and it's being perpetrated by most, if not all, chain restaurants. All of the food tastes the same. It doesn't matter where I go for a steak, burger, grilled chicken, french fries, or anything else, because it always tastes the same. It's like they're working from the same cookbook, and most of the recipes seem to be "add garlic, cook, serve".
Certainly the widespread use of garlic is because it can add a lot of flavor to a dish, and consumers seem to like it. Unfortunately, diversity is losing out here. How about some rosemary chicken? Or maybe a salad with just oil and vinegar? Even a plain steak with nothing on it? Such a simple preparation highlights the main dish, and when done correctly, it will not need any spices at all to taste wonderful.
The key here is prepared correctly. Does a cook dealing with 50 steaks at once have the time to properly prepare your food? Even if the cook is very good at his job, which there are many who are, the ingredients need to be economical. Maybe it was frozen for a long time, spent a while on a truck, or has been in the back of the fridge for a few days. This doesn't mean the food is rotten, but it's certainly not optimal. In these situations, using a simple preparation will result in complaints and unhappy customers... so slather some garlic on it and no one will taste the difference!
What about other spices? There's a whole Asian continent full of spices (and the search for a better route to them was so important that many lives were lost and the Americas were discovered). Many of those spices even grow locally these days. Why aren't we using them in our big restaurants? To me, the answer is laziness. It's just too easy to cover something in garlic and push it out the door. There's no thought necessary, and it seems that most people won't notice. Maybe people have voted with their dollars, and it's why this practice continues.
And that's why I'm avoiding it. I am voting with my dollars against garlic. Restaurants that put garlic on everything: you won't get my business. If you put seasoning on the fries (usually salt and garlic powder), be prepared to make a batch with no seasoning for me. Using garlic is easy and it's cheating, and I know you can do better.
Making your opinion heard happens one dollar at a time.