I hefted a firm dry-skinned yellow onion in the supermarket today and I thought to myself, “If I was a farmer, I would be a poor one, because I would grow only onions.” I spared a thought for cornering the market on specialty, heirloom onions and wondering how many allium family things there were to grow. Then I let it go, chuckling to myself and seeking out the sheep’s milk yogurt.
But I traveled down that mental road because I love onions. I love onions. I hadn’t really realized how much until today during ‘dinner fantasy’ when I take a little thought-tour through my pantry and shoot a virtual food porno to decide on a menu. I knew I was going to keep it simple –through no fault its own, food and my body are not BFFs right now– and as I came to the ingredient ‘onion’ and imagined slipping off its textured dress to reveal a plump, radiant bosom of pungent pleasure, I realized I didn’t want my onions sautéed, or fried or caramelized, I wanted them…steamed.
Thick rings, tender crisp, fattened on the hot, moist, air, effulgent of the sweet and the vegetal and the sulfurous that is onion.
My bias is a belief that, to love a food is to love its natural, real taste. I know that many folks don’t like onions. Or they like only like them soaked in fat or hidden in batter. I will eat those too, but I prefer them when they still taste like onions and still have their texture.
Pablo Neruda wrote an Ode to the Onion. Below, an excerpt translated by Maria Jacketti:
and when your heavy green stem/appeared, and your leaves were born/like swords in the vegetable patch/the earth accumulated riches
Love your food.