The State of the Onion

The latest presidential candidate debates have me thinking a lot about onions. Many types of onions look good on the outside. They’re even quite colorful.

Some onions are red. Others are purple. We have the yellow variety. And white. And still others are green. Some experts even claim onions offer excellent health benefits, though others may disagree.

Don’t get me wrong. I do like onions.

But have you ever picked an onion purely because it looked good? Or did you base your selection on a tried and true recipe, something you already knew to agree with your tastebuds, settle well with your stomach?

Or was it a dish someone else recommended, because you’re really gonna like this, they promised you, only to suffer the indigestion of taking their word for it. Uh. It just sounded so delicious when they described it, you say.

If you don’t know much about onions, it’s best to do some research and get to the core of this varietal veggie. Peel back each layer. Cut into that onion to see what it’s really all about.

First, toss out the skin. Don’t buy into the hype that the skin is good for you. Maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t, but most folks I know with common sense would never settle on an onion by ingesting the outermost layer alone. It tastes nasty anyway, and it crumbles easily in your hand.

As you slice your way through the inner layers, does this particular onion make you cry, for better or worse? How does the onion react when baked, grilled, or sauteed? Does its consistency change? Does it smell the same? What does it taste like? Does it cause your throat to swell? Was it raised organically, or is it the genetically modified kind?

Does it only pair well with steaks? How about Mexican food? Asian? Indian? Mediterranean? Is it palatable with the everyday good ol’ fashioned American cheeseburger? You know as well as I do that a sweet Vidalia tastes darn good at any party no matter how its prepared—even when consumed raw—but those tasty gems aren’t always available. This may be worth considering.

Sometimes the grocery store is low on supply. The onion baskets are slim pickins’. Darn the luck. In those cases, when you can’t find the best, go with the best available.

Whatever you do, don’t short your vegetable cupboard by not picking one. Your refusal to choose only means that somebody else will. Even if you don’t like onions.


Image by Brock Stephen Henning.

4 thoughts on “The State of the Onion

  1. Are you saying we should “grill” and “sauté” our politicians? I kid, I kid. Actually, the metaphor works pretty well. I might have to steal it. Works cited, of course. I had a political science teacher try and put it a similar way. Just between us, you said it better.


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