The Egyptian onion, also called tree onion or walking onion is a rare and ancient vegetable, mainly grown in Liguria. Its cultivation is limited to the areas of Ventimiglia and the Valle della Nervia, where some associations have promoted its cultivation and the exchange of bulbils.
Its exact origins are not known: the name “Egyptian” is very mysterious. The ancient Egyptians loved onions and believed that their round shape and concentric rings symbolized eternal life. They were even used during burials of Pharaohs. However, it is not known for certain if this variety actually came from the Egyptian civilization.
The Egyptian onion adapts very well to the Ligurian climate: planted in the ground, it is capable of producing every year and for future year numerous topsets, significantly increasing production. Characterized by these topsets rather than traditional flowers, it is easy to grow: by planting the bulbs collected from the mother plant in spring, the plant will grow without needing much care and resist well to diseases. Sowing can be done in fall: the plant withstands harsh winters without problems. If it is not harvested, it will regrow again by itself. The top of the plant, which can even reach 1.2 meters in height (and thus the name tree onion), slowly bends under the weight of its topset until it touches the ground, where the roots starts new plants. And this is the reason for the name walking onion.
Medium-large in size and with a fairly coriaceous skin, the onion can be eaten like any other variety: in soups, fried or in salads, while the topset are used like traditional pearl onions, mainly pickled.