Garlic is one of the essential elements of the culinary culture of Abruzzi: the red garlic of Sulmona is one of the most valued and precious elements of the Valle Peligna. Its red color, its dimensions, the speed of its growth, about 30 days faster than other varieties, as well as the richness of its properties make it a product unique in the entire world.
Historical information on the cultivation of garlic in Valle Peligna comes from Panfilo Serafino, a historian from Sulmona in middle of the 19th century.
Red garlic is planted between November and January and is harvested at the end of June and then woven into traditional braids. Before harvest, red garlic requires a preliminary operation: the extraction of the flower stem, real delicacies. In fact the stems are prepared and bottled, covered by oil, and then served as starters or side dishes. The extraction of the stem allows the swelling of the bulb which has a top that is of bigger dimensions than other types of garlic.
Garlic is entirely prepared by hand, a product with unequalled characteristics and qualities of conservation.
Rubbed on toasted bread and used in many preparations, garlic has adorned the kitchen of rich and poor for centuries, perfectly suited to infinite combinations of tastes and flavors. Indeed Raoul de Houdec in the 13th century, in the gastronomic chronicles talked about ‘agliatata’.
The only disadvantage is bad breath after eating garlic but it is easy to eliminate: eating an apple is enough. Bad breath is caused by the presence of diallyl disulfide, a component of the essential oil.
The red garlic of Sulmona is not only used in cooking, it is also an excellent pharmaceutical product. A scientific research has recognized the fact that the red garlic of Sulmona has antiseptic characteristics in intestinal mucus infections and extracts can fight against fungal genital infections.
In popular tradition, garlic was used by those who had problems with impotence or hair loss. The great poet Ovid bore witness to garlic when he talked about the importance of it in his Remedia amoris. Other examples come from Henry V who used to eat it a lot at his feasts or from the naturalist doctor Messeguè who wrote about garlic and sexual impotence.