The Onions of Roscoff
Full of flavour, slightly sweet and melt-in-the-mouth...
You've heard of rosé wine, but this is a rosé vegetable! Totally versatile, the Roscoff Onion can be used as a vegetable, a side-dish or as a condiment, raw or cooked. They are celebrated not just for their colour, but also for their unique flavour, their high vitamin C content and their long shelf-life.
Grown here since the 17th century, these onions were imported by overseas travellers and only grow in certain soils, so they are not found in many places beyond the area around Roscoff. They became famous thanks to the "Johnnies", onion sellers who travelled from Roscoff in the 1800s to sell their produce further afield, notably in England. These men travelling the country on bikes, wearing strings of onions and dressed in their Breton striped tops are the source of our stereotype for the bike-riding French man!
Nowadays, these onions have been recognised with an AOC approved label, acknowledging the longstanding know-how behind their production, which yields about 1500 tonnes a year. Every stage in their production takes place in a specific area around Roscoff.
The Fête de l’oignon rosé in celebration of this local celebrity, a festival that takes place in August, at the onion harvest time.
Also take a look around the Maison des Johnnies, an adorable museum that tells the story of those locals who ventured overseas, knocking on doors to sell their unusual pink onions in an effort to support their families back home.
the Pink Onions are often plaited together into a tress, in order of size - and the largest at the end is referred to « penn kapiten » - the Captain!