Kölnische Rundschau

The best “stinker” grows in Castile – gourmets love Spain’s garlic

“Ajo” is the name of garlic in Spain, an ingredient that has been valued in many kitchens for 3000 years and found its way from the Kyrgyz steppes, the Middle East and Egypt to Eastern, Southern and Central Europe. Especially in the pots and pans around the Mediterranean, the type of leek, often reviled as “stinky tuber”, flavored both hearty and fine preparations in a sophisticated way. Famous throughout Spain, for example, is the Castilian garlic soup “sopa de ajo” or the Basque “zurrukutuna”, a kind of cod ragout in a garlic bread sauce. Young garlic (ajos tiernos) or garlic sprouts (brotes de ajo), which are less known in this country, are also coveted delicacies among connoisseurs.

In Spain, garlic is grown on a large scale in the Andalusian provinces of Cordoba and Granada, but especially in the Castilian provinces of Albacete and Cuenca. In the latter is the town of Las Pedroneras, about 150 km east of Madrid, which calls itself the “garlic capital”. The fields stretch to the horizon, over which a breathtaking scent cloud hovers at harvest time. But the tubers grown here are considered by gourmets to be the best that the “stinking market” has to offer because of their particularly fine taste and their long shelf life (the garlic hardly loses weight when drying). It’s no wonder that the Fiesta Internacional del Ajo is celebrated every year in Las Pedroneras, a big garlic festival that takes place between August 31st. and 8.9. takes place.

The “stinker” not only tastes good, but is also extremely healthy. Garlic contains vitamin C, phosphorus, iron and essential oils. It is praised throughout the Mediterranean for its anti-inflammatory properties for stomach and intestinal diseases and as a natural remedy for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and to prevent hardening of the arteries.