Savour garlic in Spain
Savour garlic in Spain

Victoria Beckham is reputed to have complained that Spain smells of garlic. This derogatory remark did not serve to increase her popularity with Spaniards.

Garlic is one of the most common ingredients in Spanish cuisine but its aroma is certainly not as ubiquitous as Beckham may have imagined.

However, if the wife of former Real Madrid footballer David had visited Las Pedroneras during her time in Spain she would probably have immediately departed the country. That's because in this area about 160km south-east of Madrid it's possible to smell garlic from miles away during harvest season in summer.

The 7000 inhabitants of Las Pedroneras are proud that their municipality is known as the World's Capital of Garlic.

It's not just because of the large quantity of garlic grown here that Las Pedroneras has achieved fame, it's down to the high quality as well.

For connoisseurs the special variety of pink garlic grown here under ideal conditions is the best in the world. The bulb of the plant with its characteristic pink colour has a powerful odour and a hot, spicy flavour.

Spain is among the most important garlic producing nations in the world. According to the country's agriculture ministry, about 113,400 tonnes of garlic were grown in Spain in 2011, of which just 362 tonnes were of the pink variety from Las Pedroneras.

The volume of garlic grown in Spain has fallen due to cheaper imports from China. Prices have also fallen. According to the San Isidro garlic farmers' association, a kilogram of Spanish pink garlic costs about $US5 ($A4.99) and is 19 cents cheaper than in 2010.

Thanks to its status Las Pedroneras has been hosting the International Garlic Trade Fair since 1973. At the end of August an award is given to the person judged to have worked the most in promoting garlic.

The town of Las Pedroneras is also mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records: in 1998 one of the local tradesmen succeeded in weaving a 70-metre-long strand of garlic plants together.

Pink garlic from Las Pedroneras has European Protected Geographical Status thanks to its high quality. The plants are sold mainly to Spanish restaurants with a small portion going to export. The most prominent customers are the Spanish royal household and the Vatican in Rome.

Aside from its culinary value, pink garlic from Las Pedroneras is also known for its health benefits. According to a study performed by Madrid's Ramon y Cajal hospital, Las Pedroneras has the lowest levels of stomach ulcers and tumours in the whole of Spain.

And it's already known to medicine that garlic is good for the circulation, can protect against blood clots and reduce cholesterol levels.

But in Las Rejas restaurant in Las Pedroneras pink garlic is appreciated for its culinary quality.

The restaurant has one Michelin star and is regularly visited by Spanish royalty. The minimum price per menu is $US105 ($A104). The restaurant's speciality dish is traditional Castilian cold garlic soup.

For desert patrons can pick garlic ice cream - something that Victoria Beckham might well choose to do without.

The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save