The experts tell us that what makes it unique is the combination of large, compact, white cloves, a unique, pungent flavor, and a long life span: Voghiera’s garlic isn’t only Italy’s most beloved garlic, but the true elixir for a long life (the heath benefits of garlic in the treatment of colds, cancer, heart disease, hypertension, infection and even impotence are more than often praised) that is about to be celebrated for three days in a special festival in the Castle of Belriguardo (in the province of Ferrara.) From August 6th to the 8th, this special bulb, the only one that earned (in 2007) DOP recognition, returns for the 13th time to flavor and “bless” every type of dish, so that garlic-laced foods will be available for sampling.
At the festival, in addition to sampling, people can participate in culinary competitions, a beauty pageant (“Miss Garlic” will be elected for the first time this year) and a poetry challenge. This is the opportunity for the Grande Mercato dei Sapori, a large local produce market, to introduce the public not only to this special garlic but to other products found in the area.
The garlic produced in Voghiera counts for less than 1% of the national production, but quality counts more than quantity; its unique characteristics derive from the terrain and environment where it is produced, with its silty-clay soils, near the Po’s Delta. It is cultivated in Voghiera, Masi Torello, Portomaggiore, Argenta and Ferrara according to specific rules and then it is certified by an external inspection entity, which is recognized as qualified by the Emilia Romagna region.
Garlic is an important ingredient in Italian cuisine but it is not used in everything (many still believe it is) as its distinctive taste can sometimes detract from that of other more shy ingredients. It is used in some sauces, stews, soups, salad dressings, pasta sauces, casseroles, breads, grains, and croutons. An important rule: when sautéing, avoid overcooking because as the garlic browns it begins to exude a bitter aroma that will be a portent of its contribution to the final flavour of the dish.
- Natasha Lardera