Red onion of Tropea

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Red onion of Tropea

The taste of the Red Onion of Tropea is the reason that has made it one of Calabria’s icons, leading many to define it as the region’s “Red Gold.” Sweet and crunchy, the qualitative characteristics of this variety depend on its genetic makeup and its interaction with the environment. The symbiosis of the soil’s characteristics, the proximity of the sea whose breeze caresses the fields, the particular temperatures, and humidity make this product more unique than rare in its kind. The properties attributed to it are varied, although some are scientifically proven. It is said to be aphrodisiac, antiseptic, anesthetic, diuretic, and to cure rheumatism, headaches, abscesses, warts, boils, and promote bile secretion. Additionally, it is often presented as emollient, antispasmodic, anti-sclerotic, and as a vegetable that regulates cholesterol levels in the blood. Sowing begins in August, directly in the nursery, in the field, or in alveolar containers. Transplanting takes place from October to January for early onions, and from January to March for late ones. Harvesting takes place at dawn, with the dew kissing the stems. Once harvested, the onions are left to dry for about seven days, but in order to be braided, the stems must have a precise degree of moisture. Braiding is still entrusted to the hands of women with the most experience, who “cross” the onion stems. This practice in the past was particularly suitable for export in the typical wooden crates used to sell the product overseas. Its use in idiomatic expressions and folklore events, apart from cooking, has made the Red Onion of Tropea the subject of imitations and counterfeiting of the designation. This led to the need to protect the geographical designation and to create a certification system that guarantees the traceability of the various production phases. Most people are familiar with the tear-inducing effect it causes when cut. To avoid this, it is good to drink a glass of water before cutting or leave the onions for 10 minutes in the freezer or for an hour in the refrigerator. The onion was introduced to Calabria by the Phoenicians in the Vibonese area thanks to its natural harbors such as the port of Parghelia. In the Bourbon era, cultivation spread rapidly because it was highly sought after by merchants from Northern Europe. Even in Scandinavian and Gothic countries, the Red Onion of Tropea has been well known and appreciated for hundreds of years.

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