“Garlic bread” can mean a lot of different things (all good, of course). The first iteration I was introduced to was white toast with Country Crock and garlic salt, served alongside what my grandparents called “Italian spaghetti.” (What other kind of spaghetti is there, you might ask? Chicken spaghetti, which rules more completely than it has any right to.)
These days I make my garlic bread with two preparations of garlic (a whole head of soft and roasted stuff with a couple of finely minced raw cloves), and I usually build it on a French batard (the open crumb cannot be beat!) but I’ll never be above a good ol’ margarine-toast-and-garlic-salt situation. (It tastes really good!)
But, no matter which kind of delicious garlic bread I’m making, a little MSG often makes its way in there. It’s not “needed,” exactly, but it gives the bread an edge. Monosodium glutamate is literally a crystal that is made up of the two flavors you want on garlic bread—salty (thanks to the sodium) and umami (thanks to the glutamate). Just a shake or two of the little crystals accentuates the flavors that are already there, and provides a super savory backbone.
Basically, it tastes like garlic bread, but more so. It’s especially helpful if you don’t have time to roast or otherwise develop any browning in your garlic, but still want to provide a deep, almost meaty flavor to your bread.
Again, you don’t need a lot. You want the MSG to complement the garlic, not distract from it. Two shakes or one very small pinch per piece of bread is plenty. If you don’t like the look of slender, rod-shaped crystals sitting on top of your garlic bread, just mix it into the butter (or Country Crock) beforehand to conceal them.