Garlic grows throughout Europe, the Mediterranean, Africa, Asia and North America. It appears that garlic may initially have been native to Asia.
Garlic is an herb that has been used by humans as food and for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Its use may date back as far as 7,000 years, and certainly as far back as 2,000 B.C. in Asia. Garlic was a part of the daily meal during this time period in Asia. The plant later found its way into daily Greek and Roman life as far back as 1,800 B.C. Garlic is even referenced in some of the first written texts in Egyptian and Indian cultures, as noted by the American Society for Nutrition.
Modern-day garlic is grown year-round in mild climates. China, which was potentially the first to use garlic, is the highest producer of the plant in the world. China grows about 40 billion lbs. of garlic each year. Other top producers include India, South Korea and Egypt.
The taste of raw garlic is strong, pungent and a little hot. As it cooks garlic's flavor mellows and turns slightly sweet. When roasted, garlic develops a delicate nutty taste. It is popular in many cuisines, including French, Italian, Middle Eastern, Spanish and Asian.