Mediterranean diet – The Calabrian chili pepper and the red onion

Do you know the secrets and the benefits of the Mediterranean diet?

Surely, you’ve heard about tastes and smells typical of Calabrian food that is hard to resist! Vegetables, fresh fruits, olive oil, potatoes, cheese, oily fish and wine, together with a daily physical activity, are the main ingredients of the healthiest diet in the world.

Recent studies suggest that this eating pattern has many benefits because it can help:

– to prevent heart disease and strokes;

– to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, obesity and cancer;

– to increase longevity;

– to protect against type 2 diabetes.

Our beautiful Calabria region, situated between the Ionian Coast and the Tyrrhenian one in the South of Italy, with its mild climate is the perfect place where you can find and taste all the typical products coming from the land and the sea which will help to improve your health.

Calabrian chili pepper – an explosion of taste

Vulcan, Cherry Bomb and Hot Super Sheperd are just some of the names of a great variety of pepperoncino you can find in Calabria, considered one of the hottest chili peppers in Italy and the symbol of this beautiful place.

These special chili peppers are strongly aromatic, used in many local Calabrian recipes and also as an antibiotic by ancient cultures to stop the spread of infections. In meal preparation, to make food more flavorful, piccantino is also used; it is very spicy, prepared with hot peppers, olive oil, aromatic herbs, salt and vinegar, other typical products of our land.

Thanks to the special climatic conditions of the breathtakingly region and the sandy soil, pepperocino is tasty, delicious and healthy: it is rich of provitamin A and vitamin C with antiseptic, digestive and vasodilatory properties and it is one of the ingredients of the Mediterranean diet.

Red Onion of Tropea – a smell you never forget

Belonging to the lily family and cultivated along the Tyrrhenian coast of Calabria (the “toe” of the boot), is famous for its delicate and sweet taste.

It is a delicious ingredient of Mediterranean cuisine, served raw in summer salads of fresh tomato, olives and oregano or used to prepare a jam, perfect for any kind of food, especially with cheese, bread and meat that just the Calabrian tradition could have invented.

Three are the different variety of onions:

– the ‘cipollotto’, sweet, soft and white, harvested in October;

– the ‘cipolla fresca’, a little more red/violet having a long stem and harvested in April;

– the ‘cipolla da serbo’, dry, crunchy, sweet and harvested in June.

The red onion was brought to Calabria during the era of the Phoenicians and, during the Renaissance, it was considered a primary source of nutrition and very useful for the local economy because it was sold and exported by sea to Tunisia, Algeria and Greece.

The connoisseurs say that it has an aphrodisiac effect, doesn’t make you cry like the other onions and has a smell you never forget!

Written by

Ylenia Azzaro, JUMP Team