Kiru Naidoo

YOU will always get two kisses from me. Even if you eat garlic. Especially if you eat garlic. The kisses are maybe my fake continental sensibility. Then maybe not.

The other morning, I knotted my Hermès tie in the particular manner taught by a close friend. He also happens to be a king in Francophone West Africa. When Phillippe’s father died, he escaped to France for fear that he was the heir to the throne. The elders kidnapped him and bundled him back home to father his own heir.

During the year of mourning, every man in the kingdom had to be celibate on pain of death, while my friend was forced to sow the entire land. Any child born during the mourning period was potentially an heir as there could be no doubt about paternity.

“How did you cope, Votre Majesté?” I asked quizzically.

“Garlic, mon frère, fine silk and good shoes,” he chuckled.

He is an absolute charmer right down to a penchant for fine dining.

With my silk tie straightened, I clicked the heels of my bespoke loafers, crafted in choice swakara and gold-embossed leather by the stylish Stone Ice boutique at the market end of Dr Monty Naicker Street. “Where you learned all these fancy styles from?” my ever-present township conscience Mahendra interrogated.

I can’t pretend with him. He knows all my stink.

“My brother, you should always dress like you’re going to bump into your ex!”

I shared my own brand of wisdom to throw him off the trail.

Now Mahen features in this storyline for reasons of simple curiosity and utter stupidity.

When other boys and girls our age were selling vadas and moorku to support the household income, Mahen did a roaring trade in a ground mixture of ginger and garlic.

In my jaunts from the Caribbean to Canton, from the Artic to Tehran, from Bamako to Bombay, I have never found such a foul concoction. The recipe was invented by Mahen’s ancestors but has, instead, made millionaires out of spice wallahs, from Bond Street to Laudium.

“We mixed it to make it easy for the cooks to cool the cowchee,” he ventured.

For all his higher grade education, Mahen neglected to patent the abomination. Well in the manner of my royal friend, I like to keep my garlic and ginger separate.

The other evening, when I wined a young woman less than half my age and almost as beautiful as my ex, the Italian maître d’* ôtel kissed her hand.

She jolted back at the gale force of the garlic on his breath. I can’t vouch for Luciano’s dental hygiene but he does know a thing or two about garlic and seduction.

Garlic is a natural aphrodisiac. No wonder then that certain faiths on a certain spiritual paths forbid it for fear of stimulating the central nervous system.

Ayurveda prizes garlic as a powerful medicine. In India, it is also known as “a poor man’s gold”.

It is an excellent remedy for colds, coughs, fever, a sore throat and even asthma. Applied as a paste, it is meant to relieve joint pain, muscular strain, stiffness and even arthritis.

It is also touted for reducing bad cholesterol and supporting the growth of good cholesterol.

Being men of cunning linguistic agility, Luciano and I are in no doubt that the Sanskrit description of garlic - as having virya or hot potency - is spot on.

Play a little more with the word and you might figure that virya is the root of the English word virility.

Whatever your intentions, garlic, in whatever quantities, is hardly likely to have you wheeled into the emergency room, but do check with the good doctor (linked in).

If you want something really special, try Chin’s garlic butter from the Warwick Avenue market.

Resist being tight-fisted and reaching for Mahen’s cold ginger-garlic in the plastic bottle in the fridge.

That’s only good for the meat to smell nice, not to father an heir.

Take two cloves and call Naidoo in the morning at 0829408163 or [email protected]

* Naidoo is a historian with a passion for local culture