The traditional area in which it is grown in Calabria is the Capo Vaticano area in the Municipality of Ricadi and the name ‘Tropean Red’ (Rossa di Tropea) came from the simple fact that the shipments of the onions all over the world departed from the railway yards of Tropea. The red onions were transported from the fields to the railway station at Tropea on the backs of donkeys or on carts pulled by bulls, along the paths overlooking the sea.
Ties with the area: the stretch of headland of Capo Vaticano that extends towards Tropea – Parghelia features lush fields renowned for the “Tropean Red”. We are referring to the onion that is grown on the terraces of Mount Poro, of Ricadi and along the coastline from Nicotera to beyond the plains of Lamezia Terme.
In addition to its actual variety, the sweetness of the red onion of Tropea is also attributable to the particular micro-climate and sandy soils found in the vicinity of the sea along the Tyrrhenian coastline.
All the different stages in its production are undertaken by hand by local farmers and the techniques for preparing the onion have been handed down from one generation to the next.
Uses in cooking: In Calabria red onions are also eaten raw in order to appreciate all of its flavours – an ingredient of Mediterranean cuisine. The sweet red onion is excellent served raw in summer salads of fresh tomato, olives and oregano or in an onion tart (crostata di cipolle), a traditional dish of the area of Tropea.
Every year Ricadi celebrates the “festival of the red onion” on the 13th of August, when it is possible to taste it in a myriad of different preparations, from omelettes to onion jams.