Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Onions Make Me Cry in More Ways Than One!

The onion is used as the base to so many recipes, which makes it one of the most sort after flavor enhansers. Many dishes would be nothing but bland without it. Though the onion wasn't always held in high regards. In ancient times the onion was thought lowly because of its pungent flavor. The onion dates back to 3500 BC and is thought to have originated in Asia. Although it was probably growing wild in all continents.
Through the years and all over the world, the onion has had quite a history. The Egyptians once worshiped the onion, thinking that it's round shape and concentric rings symbolized eternity. In ancient Greece the athletes devoured huge amounts because it was thought to lighten the balance of the blood. Following the downfall of Greece, the onion became an important part of the Roman diet. Onion juice to was rubbed on gladiators because they thought it would firm up the muscles. (Huum..... I wonder if it works on cellulite?)
As the onion grew in popularity and spread throughout the world and in different cultures, more and more uses were being discovered. In the middle ages the onion was used by doctors to cure many diseases. Even today the onion is touted as a healthy part of the American diet. Researchers believe the antioxidants which onions contain may block cancer and appear to lower cholesterol.

First of all if it is fresh, which is how you want it, it will make you cry when slicing or chopping it. Ok, I know there are many tricks to prevent this. The only one I can think of is holding a piece of bread in your mouth as you chop the onion. Can you picture this? NOT COOL. Plus I just want to get the chopping over with, I don't want to have to go to extreme measures to get a little onion in my pan.
Secondly, I have acid reflux and eating onions is one of the triggers for a bout of serious heartburn. NOT FUN.
THIRDLY, AND WORSTLY. The smell that this innocuous vegetable gives off while cooking will kill you. Sure it smells good in terms of eating, but the house, my hair, my clothes and everything else in close proximity will suck in the odor and it will stay there. I hate this more than, more than uumm......... SPIDERS which is a whole other blog.
The rituals and the lengths I go through to prevent this phenomenon is wacky. Lets start with the special fry sweater I wear while preparing to cook onions or any other smelly food (Fish is another one, but I won't go there right now). I figure it is a barrier to absorb the odor so it won't cling to my clean clothes. I pull my hair back in a really tight bun. He he he. I open windows and doors. I run down the halls of my house and close all room door so as not to trap the offensive scent. I have fans pointing toward the window as to direct the foul smell outwards. Sometimes in the winter the house gets so cold while I'm cooking these wonderful pale colored veggies that I am shivering as I saute. After all of this, my clothes and hair smell as if I were dining in weinorama for the week and the house still reeks. What else can I do? Well I pondered this long and hard and came up with another idea.(I don't give up easily, as my mother would say " You are a Capricorn") I chop the onion and put it in a little bowl with some olive oil, cover it with plastic wrap and microwave on low for a few minutes. Once my saute pan is ready for the onion, I quickly place it in and add all other ingredients. This has helped. Try it and let me know what you think.
Well this was my ode to the onion which makes me cry in more ways than one. I hope you enjoyed it!


Jen said...

"the special fry sweater"
Was my favorite part.

Semavi Lady said...

Reflux isn't actually caused initially by food, but by digestive tract deterioration. Too complicated to get into here now but a way to approach curing the discomfort is to have daily helpings of probiotic. Many people like yogurt. Get or make natural yogurt, or make your own kefir which is even better from the probiotic standpoint.

If you don't like their flavor, you can make daily smoothies. Half a banana (can be frozen), half a fresh peach (can also be frozen) and some kefir or natural yogurt in the blender, some people like to add some ice -- nothing is an exact recipe since everyone is different and we have different fruit from season to season. Add a spoonfull of psyllium husks if you want more fiber. Add more banana if you need it sweeter. I avoid refined sweeteners when I can.

After keeping up with a probiotic routine, you may find your symptoms of reflux gradually abate or will stop getting any worse (your gut starts to heal).
A website that talks a little about probiotics. I refer to it when helping friends find solutions. There is no 'cure' like you can't go back to transfats after stopping it for a while, but you can keep trying to heal. :)