Hail the red onion of Tropea

By Lucia April 30, 2016


In Italy they have a concept called Sagra. My friend Francesca took me to a Sagra when I was visiting her family on the coast of Tuscany this past July. A Sagra is a festival where you go to eat one single item of food. The one I went to in Tuscany was a fundraiser for a local sports team – and a celebration of a certain type of fish stew. It was held outdoors in a town square, with tons of wooden tables lined up for you to eat at. There were middle-schoolers in sports jerseys doing volleyball and basketball demos, and Phil Collins music playing over loudspeakers, and there was a lean-to with a teenager inside selling the fish stew and a few other regional specialties.

When I was doing research for our trip to Calabria, I saw that they have a Sagra for the Red Onion of Tropea. This made me so happy. I didn’t think there were Sagre for vegetables. It was a good sign of what was to come.

In Calabria, simple reigns. And the red onion of Tropea is worshipped. There are dozens of products made using the red onion. They’re for sale by the side of the road. There are even organizations dedicated to the promotion and protection of the red onion. If you have an Instagram account and enjoy seeing red onions next to coats of arms: check this out. And the taste? It’s unlike our red onions here. When you slice into them they are white. And they are mild and sweet.

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