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  • Writer's pictureTransylvania Trips

What's the deal with all the Garlic?

Updated: Jun 8, 2019

Garlic is known to be used for warding off vampires, including everyone’s favourite, Count Dracula.

We are sorry to disappoint you here, but there are no real vampires in Transylvania. However, some people still believe in their existence, exactly like some believe in the existence of Irish leprechauns. We are not here to completely contradict anyone, especially since there are some real-life facts that stand at the root of all legends.

The number 1 weapon against all evil

Asking the Real Questions

As you’ll arrive in Transylvania, you will immediately notice that in terms of flavours and spices, garlic really is a favourite ingredient in everything cooked traditionally (and very strong onion seems to be a local favourite too).

So is it specifically the garlic that’s keeping the vampires away and that’s why local people are adding it to the food, or is it the other way around? Did all the garlic in the food make people imagine that garlic is what’s preventing creatures of the night from crawling behind our backs, although it could work just as well with something else? Perhaps the question is too philosophical and out of scope here.

Nobody really tried to take the garlic out of Transylvanian dishes, so we will never know what happens if we do.

Edvard Munch, in his "Vampire" work (1893), shows us what happens when no garlic is around

Now let’s look at the facts, shall we?

Garlic Facts

In medieval Central Europe, many cultures used garlic (Allium sativum) for protection and white magic, by wearing it, hanging it on the windows, or rubbing it on chimneys or doors.

Peculiar Disease

One possible explanation for the belief that garlic keeps vampires away is related to the disease porphyria, caused by irregularities in the production of a chemical in the blood called heme. Some sufferers are sensitive to sunlight and experience erosion of their skin, gums and lips, leading them to look a bit… well, “undead”. Here comes the interesting part though: many of these sufferers have an intolerance to foods that are high in sulphur, with garlic being one of these foods. Sounds familiar? Fangs, sensitivity to sunlight and eroding skin?


Examining it from a different perspective, garlic is one of the most resistant plants as it is rarely affected by any pests or diseases. It is known to repel some creatures (of the day and night) such as rabbits and moles. Perhaps garlic has a thing for keeping away all things with long teeth.

It has also been known for many centuries as a cure-all solution, as it used to be prescribed for smallpox or dropsies, and it was largely used as an antiseptic to prevent gangrene during World War I and World War II.

The Real Power

On a sillier and probably more realistic note though, we all know how one’s mouth can stink after consuming too much garlic. And that’s enough to keep anyone away. Even vampires!

Charming shot of the Count from the "Dracula" (1958) trailer

All you have to do is fly to Cluj-Napoca (Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Ryanair, WizzAir, Tarom, BlueAir, LOT Polish Airlines all fly here) and we’ll pick it up from there! Garlic included!

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