Tropea Rossa Lunga
The red onions from Tropea in Southern Italy have been famous for centuries. Think of the American Walla Walla onion or the Vidalia onion but now add 450 years. Over time Tropea onions have become ingrained into local lore and cuisine. There is a large onion festival each July in Tropea to celebrate the "remarkable health and
healing powers" of red onions. I've seen pictures and they look like a healthy crowd.
The alleged healing powers of Tropea onions cover arthritis, poor eyesight, skin disorders and a potpourri of infections including toenail fungus. For the healthier onion eater it is claimed to keep women slim and men erect. In recent years a "Dr. Pasquale Potenza" surfaced in advertising for Tropea onions. The fictional biochemist claimed to have discovered the active ingredient in Viagra to be present in Tropea onions. Those Italian farmers are such jokers. "Potenza? Merck is laughing all the way to the bank.
The famed Tropea onions are of two open pollinated varieties: the bottle-shaped or torpedo type "Tropea Rossa Lunga" featured here and a round onion with a flattened top called "Tropeana Tonda". This year I'm trialing a small patch of Tropea Tonda as well but they appear to be 3-4 weeks behind other onions. Both types are red/violet with sweet, crisp flesh. The Lunga onions are principally eaten fresh or "cipolla fresca" although they will keep for a few short months.
Tropea lunga are a versatile onion in the kitchen but many claim it reaches its acme when lightly oiled and roasted over a low fire. The inner white flesh becomes meltingly sweet and the charred exterior has a pleasant, smoky flavor. In that vein I've roasted Lunga in a wood-fired oven and blended minced inner onion flesh with mashed
French Fingerling potatoes. Serve the dish with a drizzle of coulis made from the charred onion skins, butter and sea salt. Fantastico!
The EU has granted the onions of Tropea "IGP Status" which essentially means that only Tropea Onions grown in Tropea can be named as such. These onions were grown from seed purchased from the Italian seed company Franchi Semette. The soil was American. The fertilizer was from American horses in Sonoma County. The water was American and the labor was 100% American. If the Europeans want me to call these
onions something else they gotta make me. I'm ready for them. As W might say: "Bring it on!"