You can’t get much more typically Spanish than a nice garlic soup, my kitchen speciality, but there have been tears before bedtime after the EU upped the annual Chinese import levels of garlic by 21%.
The Chinese will be importing an additional 12.375 tons of the stuff into the EU this year. It’s in compensation for the adhesion of Romania and Bulgaria into the common market, it seems. Since the Chinese can no longer import directly into these two countries, they get the whole EU level upped.
But, as Cuenca, the province which mainly lives off growing and selling the stuff points out, Romania and Bulgaria don’t buy much Chinese garlic. Most of the Chinese bulbs go to Spain and France, killing off the local family farmers who grow the local stuff more expensively.
7,000 people in Cuenca make a living growing garlic, and produce 85,000 tons a year. But the Chinese stuff costs about half as much.
You can tell the Chinese import easily enough – the bulbs are smaller and pinker than the Spanish bulb. And it doesn’t taste as nice.
The Garlic Promotion Board, or whatever it’s called (Mesa Nacional del Ajo, ed), says a Spanish bulb costs €1,20 to grow whilst the Chinese stuff sells for €0,60 in the shops. They’ve launched a new promotional campaign under the snappy slogan No permitas que el gazpacho de este verano no sea con ajo españo
“Do not permit that the gazpacho of this summer is not made with Spanish garlic”.
That’ll have them rioting in the streets of Beijing…