Who doesn't love garlic? Vampires, I suppose. But for the rest of us, garlic is usually a welcome ingredient. To add subtle garlic notes to a salad or pasta dish without making it overpowering, rub a clove of garlic on a bowl.
This is an old recipe step that cooks have been doing for ages. Epicurious explains how it works:
Grab a bowl (it doesn't matter whether it's wood, glass, or even plastic), peel a garlic clove, halve it, and rub the cut side of each half all over the inside surface of the bowl. Throw in vegetables like chopped tomatoes or summer squash, and add a handful of fresh herbs, some salt, and some pepper. Add some just-cooked, still-warm pasta to the bowl and toss with the vegetables and herbs, drizzling with olive oil as you go. The olive oil-dressed pasta will pick up the garlic juices in the bowl, coating every strand in a gentle dose of sweet, garlicky flavour. Eat the pasta while it's still warm or wait until it's a more cookout-friendly room temperature.
The Kitchn adds that this tip probably also works because of the aroma of the garlic — our sense of smell affects our sense of taste, so picking up on the aroma can make a big difference.
The LA Times suggested that this tip gained popularity in the '30s with restauranteur and cookbook writer George Rector. The article reports that Rector's idea of seasoning a wooden salad bowl was a myth, but they also seem to suggest this old garlic tip is, too. Still, many recipes call for prepping the bowl this way. And while I'm no chef, I tested this tip myself, and it does work the way it's supposed to — it adds a garlic aroma and subtle flavour to the dish. Try it for yourself, and read more at the link below.
The Italian Secret to Great Pasta Salad [Epicurious]