Members of the family Alliaceae : onion, shallot, garlic

France is peculiar for its use of the three edible items - onion, shallot, garlic -, in different food associations. It is hardly ever used all together in the same dish and the onion may become the star of a recipe (e.g.: soup, pie, confit made with onions).

These three ingredient-condiments belong to the same family, the Alliaceae, genus Allium. The sophisticated linguistic form of "onion" - in french it's "oignon"- comes from the Latin "unio", a united bulb, which does not divide. The onion is well known all over the world, but it is worth mentioning one variety that has an exuberant name: the very early white onion of the Queen!

Enjoy  your search!


Let's move on to garlic. As France has been maintaining 6 varieties of garlic classified as protected local products, various colours of garlic exist: the pink garlic (from Auvergne and Lautrec), the purple garlic from Cadours, the white garlic (from Lomagne and Drôme). White garlic accounts for 80% of national production and is widely used in Mediterranean cuisine. Reasons for the recognition of French garlic? The typicity of garlic cultivation in France is defined by the different colored varieties, a slight cutting of the roots - there remains 'a foot' of dry roots at the bottoms of the bulb -, a meticulous drying of the bulbs and stems to ensure that they can be braided in large quantities. This method is the way to success conservation of garlic during winter, in bunches or in braids.

The precious one from France: the shallot. This type of onion is distinctive with its elongated shape and its dark pink color. French cuisine favors it when cooked as part of a meat sauce, or raw as part of a salad sauce. Eating oysters or shellfish the French way may involve serving them with a shallot vinegar.

The smell emitted by these three items is made up of sulfur compounds that repel animals from digging up the bulbs! Luckily for us humans, cooking turns these molecules into delicious flavors with beneficial effects. In addition, there is one of the most powerful elements for the prevention of liver fibrosis and osteoroposis and for the reduction of inflammation: the quercetin.


- Sorry, it's only in French!


- McGee on Food & Cooking - An encyclopedia of kitchen science, history and culture, McGee Harold, Editions Hodder and Stoughton Ltd, 2004, 884p, ISBN 9780340831496

- From the Mediterranean cuisine knowledge, mainly promoting the strong taste of garlic with the recipe of aïoli

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