Garlic has always been a popular crop in Romania. In Copălău, a village in the historical region of Moldova, near the district of Botoșani, more than 40% of the inhabitants cultivate the subspecies of Allium sativum L. vulgare, continuing a centuries-old tradition.
Copălău garlic is a spring variety with good resistance to drought, low temperatures and disease. The bulbs are medium-sized and oval. When they are mature, the garlic bulb weighs about 45 grams, with only 4 to 5 cloves. The plant has a low yield, but this variety has a long shelf life. It has an aromatic flavour that is not pungent or too intense. The texture, smell and taste are delicate and earthy.
The small scale and manual production of this garlic, combined with the refusal to use chemical additives, makes this product uncompetitive on the market when compared to industrialised products. Despite its high environmental and cultural value, the market still does not sufficiently reward the efforts of the local farmers. In the Botosani districts, the cultivated area has decreased from 300 to 5 hectares: the main reason for the sharp drop in domestic production is also the lack of sales. Having no support or promotion for other markets, locals sell garlic in front of their houses.
Garlic cultivation in Copălău is a real tradition among the locals; for many years, it provided a livelihood for the locals. Recently, Copălău garlic has been gaining national and international recognition.
The locals call it a natural antibiotic because of its health benefits.
The most traditional recipe is Mujdei sauce which is made with: garlic, sunflower oil, salt, hot water and black pepper. Mujdei sauce is suitable for smoked pork shanks, polenta, mititei (traditional Romanian rolled meat), pickled fish or small anchovies fried in cornmeal.