Origins of the Pink Garlic of Lautrec
Pink Garlic was introduced to Lautrec during the Middle-Ages.
Legend has it that a peddler stopped over in an inn located at a place called l’Oustallarié.
However, short of money, he settled his accommodation with garlic cloves.
The innkeeper planted the cloves and soon seduced by the taste and colour of this unknown plant, started to grow pink garlic!
Garlic is native to Central Asia where its medicinal qualities and taste were already recognized more than 5000 years ago.
Nomadic tribes exported it to the Far East, Middle East and Southern Europe as a currency of exchange.
Christopher Columbus exported it to South America, the Romans and the Vikings introduced it to Western Europe, and our peddler to Lautrec!
Pink Garlic of Lautrec characteristics
The pink garlic of Lautrec has a very rigid stalk which has wonderfully adapted to the local clay and limestone soil.
Once harvested it is left to dry for at least two weeks.
It is then peeled to the last skin in order to expose its delicate pink colour.
The long stalks are then grouped into plaits or manouilles.
The Pink Garlic of Lautrec is a great commercial success.
It was cultivated on a small scale until the 1950’s when young producers decided to promote it and improve the traditional methods.
In order to do so, they founded the Syndicat de Défense du Label Ail Rose de Lautrec in 1959.
The Pink Garlic of Lautrec is renowned for its delicate taste and for its ability to keep from one crop to another when stored at a constant temperature of 12ºc to 15ºc.
Pink Garlic of Lautrec’s labels
These qualities owed it the prestigious Label Rouge (Red Label) in 1966.
The Pink Garlic of Lautrec was indeed one of the first agricultural products to be granted this label which guarantees the quality and origin of production.
In the 1990s the producers created ‘certified seeds of Pink Garlic of Lautrec’.
They used the traditional species Forain in order to create several varieties such as Iberos, Goulurose, Edenrose and Jardirose which produces an average crop of 5 to 6 tons per hectare.
In 1996, the Pink Garlic of Lautrec received the IPG or Certificat d’Identification Geograhique Protégée (certificate of protected geographical identification.)
This European label essentially applies to agricultural products.
It guarantees that they are produced in a designated area, grown within the framework of the IGP specifications and checked by an awarding body.
The Pink Garlic of Lautrec is therefore grown in accordance with strict specifications.
These include the conditions of seed preparation, planting dates, crop rotation, amount of fertilizer, harvest dates, conditions of drying, sorting and packaging.
The certified area Red Label – PGI Pink Garlic of Lautrec covers an area of 360 hectares spread over 88 municipalities in the south-west of the Tarn department.
Pink Garlic Festival
The Pink Garlic of Lautrec Festival was founded in 1970 in order to mark the beginning of the marketing period.
It takes place on the first Friday of August and groups many events and competitions (such as the longest plait or manouille).
Then come the traditional tasting of garlic soup and an open-air dance.
Tourists, holidaymakers and locals crowd the medieval lanes of Lautrec.
Market stalls shaded by large colourful parasols crumble under mountains of pink garlic and other regional products.
The air is saturated with the smell of garlic, fruits and flowers.
A joyous crowd moves from stall to stall.
Some meet friends and family, others chat with the stall owners and all enjoying the warm summer day.
Brotherhood of the Pink Garlic of Lautrec
The Syndicat de Défense du Label Ail Rose de Lautrec founded the Confrérie de l’Ail Rose de Lautrec in 2000 in order to promote the Pink Garlic, the region and its culinary traditions.
The organization has nearly 200 members who are formally received into the Brotherhood during the Festival.
They are dressed in long colourful robes and wear hats in order to take part of these annual ceremonies.
They then mingle with the crowd in order to participate in the joyous festivities.
Not to be missed if you happen to be on holiday in this beautiful region.