There is a product which does not show the sign of time passing by: a bulb made up of layers of purplish-red tunics, oval, long or round, the red (violet) “onion of Tropea”.
This everlasting fruit of the land of Calabria is authentic and mediterranean, known of different varieties, including spring onions, early store onions and late harvest onions.
Pliny the Elder cited this vegetable in his “Naturalis Historia”, declaring that it was curative as well as more nourishing and tasty. And it is impressive the fact that in that ancient land, Calabria, even if it was invaded by Greeks, Arabs, Franks, this onion survived to these cultural passages. Namely, many historical and bibliographic sources attributed the introduction of the onion to the Phoenicians and later the Greeks. Historians since 1700 and 1800 spoke of red-violet onions of Tropea.
Due to its unique sweetness, Tropea onion is the most famous and appreciated onion of Calabria, abroad. It grows, typically, on the cliffs that descend from Mount Poro towards the sea between Cape Vaticano, Zambrone, Tropea and Briatico, in the provinces of Cosenza and Vibo Valentia, but the larger land of this onion is the coastal medium-high Tyrrhenian of Calabria, areas of the provinces of Cosenza, Catanzaro and Vibo Valentia, where the cultivars belong to fresh soils, overlooking the sea, with conditions of humidity, typical of the area of the upper-middle of the Tyrrhenian coast of Calabria.
The cultivars of Tropea’s onions, belonging to the lily family, are three:
- “cipolla da serbo”, dry, crunchy, sweet;
- “cipollotto”, sweet, soft and white;
- “cipolla fresca”, more red/violet, with a long stem.
The fruit is sweet, fleshy and light, with a rather delicate fragrance, so that it is excellent for preparing lots of different dishes. Nowadays, it is essential to so many recipes that they cannot miss such element, for example any Calabrian daily soups, omelettes, jams, salads fresh and sweet delights of summer. Further, Tropea onion can be prepared in several different ways: baked, boiled, for production of delicious onion marmalade, as appetizer and on roasted peppers.
The fruit has, anyway, many organoleptic properties, given that it is diuretic and laxative and highly digestible and rich in vitamins. It is so rich in antioxidants and healthy as well as excellent anti-inflammatory, that sometimes we can even forget to remember its unmistakable sweet flavor. Further, recent studies have again shown that this onion has further hypoglycemic and anticancer properties, in addition to its antiseptic functions, alleviating both cold and flu symptoms. It was evidenced that it strengthens the cells and tone the arteries, lowers blood pressure, and can be used in dermatology.