Bringing onions into the fussy household has been an uphill battle. You see, Mrs. Fussy hates the little buggers. And yes, I knew this before we were married, but as I have said before, she has many other wonderful qualities.
It used to be that I wouldn’t even keep onions in the house.
But as soon as Mrs. Fussy would leave town, the onion love would commence. I would thinly slice half an onion, slowly caramelize it over low heat, add an unhealthy amount of butter, and scramble in two eggs. Eggs with onions has been a comfort food of mine since I was a child.
To her credit, Mrs. Fussy has been working very hard to overcome her revulsion to this allium. And I have been working with her.
Mostly this results in two things:
1) I cut the onions up into very very small pieces.
2) I cook the hell out of them, so they add flavor but no real texture.
And I’m fine with that. Sure, there are dishes that I would say benefit from a sprinkling of raw diced onion. But I don’t think she’ll ever get there. Luckily as long as I don’t mind forgoing kisses and physical affection for several hours after the fact, I can eat whatever I like.
Knife skills are so critical in the kitchen. It is the thing I would most like to improve. But getting better with a knife requires a lot of time to practice and the discipline to keep your tools in tip top shape. Currently I have neither of these, so the act of cutting up onions into teeny tiny pieces will just have to remain a time-intensive labor of love.
Cooking the hell out of them is much easier. That just involves an avalanche of cooking oil, plenty of salt, a generous amount of time on high heat, an even longer low-heat covered sweat, and a final high-heat sear. And that’s just for starters. Because generally the dishes that contain onions will continue to cook for another hour or two, at least.
I do all of this because onions are critical.
They are at the heart of the flavor base for many of the world’s cuisines. A few examples are:
1) Cajun food’s trinity of onions, celery and green pepper.
2) French cuisine’s mirepoix of onion, carrot and celery.
3) Italian cooking’s soffritto of onions, carrot and garlic.
Even my Indian curries start with sautéed onions that serve as the delivery device for all of the aromatic spices of the cuisine.
The Most Delicious Split Pea Soup in the Known Universe, The Centerpiece of Thanksgiving, Abuela’s Frijoles Negros, and 100g of Pure Indian Joy all rely on onions’ sweetness and depth of flavor.
I make most of the meals for the family. But only when I start using up a lot of onions do I really feel like I’ve been cooking.
Luckily, Mrs. Fussy and I have gotten over the hump about bringing onions into the house. Now I have a handsome blue bowl that is dedicated to holding them within arm’s reach of the stove. I am happy, because that bowl just got filled.
Looks like I have some cooking to do.