Calabria is a region in southern Italy, actually the “toe” of the Italian peninsula, as is called. It is surrounded by the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas, with about 400 Km of beautiful indented coastline, considered by many as the most beautiful in Italy. Tourism in Calabria is shared by the sun lovers who crowd the coast between late spring and early fall, and nature lovers, who trek in the beautiful National parks of the Sila and the Aspromonte, but also by the lovers of food and wine tourism coming from all over the world to have a mix of art and cooking in this lovely place.
It is an ancient land, and because of its many natural bays, was easily invaded in the past by many: the Greeks, the Arabs, the Franks, the Spaniards and the Sicilians. The remains of these cultural passages, towers, fortresses, old ports, can still be seen today. Its geography is rough, with the high mountains of the Sila, the forests stretching down to the coast, but this does not hinder the agriculture, the lower slopes are full of orchards and vineyards. The Calabrese cuisine is a reflection of its history - it is not refined or elaborate, normally simple, using most of the time vegetable such as the onions, in particular the red onion, the red onion of Tropea.
These famous red onions are grown in an area which stretches in both directions along the coast from Tropea. The onions belong to the lily family and are of 3 distinct types:
- the 'cipollotto' which is sweet, soft and white and harvested in October;
- the 'cipolla fresca' with similar properties but a little more red/violet having a long stem and harvested in April;
- the 'cipolla da serbo' which is dry, crunchy, sweet and harvested in June.
Several historical and bibliographic sources attribute the introduction of the onion, in the Mediterranean basin and in Calabria first to the Phoenicians and later the Greeks, spreading in that stretch of coast from Fiumefreddo Bruzio up to Nicotera. Quotes are found in the writings of numerous travelers who arrived in Calabria between 700 and 800 and by visiting the Tyrrhenian coast from Pizzo Tropea, spoke of red onions in topic. The area of production of this ecotype is well defined and encompasses the coastal medium-high Tyrrhenian of Calabria, areas of the provinces of Cosenza, Catanzaro and Vibo Valentia. The cultivation prefers fresh soils, medium texture and loose enough, overlooking the sea. The climatic conditions (soil, temperature, humidity, hours of light) of the area of the upper-middle of the Tyrrhenian coast of Calabria, the unique genetic makeup and human ingenuity, are the exclusive responsibility of the sublime physical and chemical composition of this product.
The red onion of Tropea, what a great invention, we must really thank the nature for this wonder of vegetable, so sweet and delicious and healthy that one can not do without it. Once, remembered our grandmothers, was indispensable as a staple food for any fried and boiled veal and chicken, and now gradually became more and more space on our tables with tons of recipes for which lends. Now is in so many recipes that has become most essential than parsley, in our daily soups, omelettes, jams, not to mention the salads fresh and sweet delights of summer. This is due not only to the unmistakable sweet flavor that makes it different from all the other qualities, but also for the organoleptic properties, which is diuretic and laxative and highly digestible and rich in vitamins. We have not ever wondered, why our ancestors lived so long and did not know about the doctors, but it is clear they fed on these products so called poor of the earth, but so rich in antioxidants and healthy as well as excellent anti-inflammatory.
Buon appetito to you all!
Spaghetti with red onions of Tropea
Ingredients for 5 people:
- 500g/17.63oz red onions of Tropea
- 500g/17.63oz of spaghettini
- olive oil to taste
- salt to taste
- black pepper
- chilli to taste
Pour the oil in a pot with a lid, add salt, and onions already peeled, washed and sliced into rounds, cook for 20 min. with lid, add a bit 'of oregano, chopped parsley and black pepper and hot pepper at discretion. The pasta must be drained 'al dente' and goes blended for 2 min. in the pot with the onions.