Italian duo grow giant ''kissing garlic''

About three years ago, Alessandro Guagni, a construction engineer, came across giant bulbs of garlic being sold on a farmer's stand in Tuscany. Guagni found the taste light, and hence with his childhood friend Lorenzo Bianchi, a commercial lawyer, decided to cultivate the variety, known as aglione. The giant variety is milder, odourless and easy to digest, according to the pair which means it is suitable for those who worry about the affect garlic has on their breath.

The duo are trying to get their “kissing garlic” into some of Italy’s Michelin-star restaurants after chefs who sampled last year’s crop gave it an enthusiastic response. They hope to sell the aglione in high quality food markets, where they hope it will come to be seen as a newfound Italian gem.

The pair have grown their garlic on two hectares of land, which they say is enough to cultivate about 30,000 plants.

The ultra-mild garlic was almost lost completely. Today, there are less than ten producers who grow aglione, all of which are located in Italy’s Chiana Valley. Guagni and Bianchi have joined this small enclave of aglione producers and grow their ''Kissing Garlic'' in the valley using ducks as weed deterrents and fertilizer dispensers. (The ducks eat the weeds, then digest them and fertilize the soil with their droppings.)

Guagni and Bianchi, who have been friends since they were teenagers growing up in Rome, are thinking big, possibly about creating a supplement or soap, given that garlic is known for its anti-bacterial qualities. They also have a few more ancient products they would like to revive, but don’t want to divulge their trade secrets.

Sources: theguardian.com, foodandwine.com


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