Monday, July 12, 2010

A minor rant about onions and garlic

See? He looks evil, doesn't he?

Onions. Shallots. Garlic. They are crucial to my cooking. But I cannot STAND them in their raw form. I must have some defect. Some enzyme I'm missing. Some taste bud thing that just doesn't work for me. So many recipes, so many chefs, so many people use chopped shallots, red onion, minced garlic - in their raw form. Check a salad dressing recipe. "1 Tbs. minced shallot". "1 Tbs. minced garlic." Raw. As in not sweated. Or cooked in any way shape or form. Ohhh, I know some people would say that the acid (vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice) "cooks" it. Hahahahahaaa! I mock your "acid cooking!" My tastebuds say "Oh My God! Kill it! Get it out of our mouth, now!!"

Go to a restaurant. Order a sandwich. Order a salad. The ubiquitous and evil red onion will probably be sneaking around somewhere on the plate. Hiding under the kaiser roll. Perched defiantly on top of a salad (usually in a brown plastic bowl, actually) like a red hawk on a power line next to a field on the side of I-55 in Arkansas.

Field mice are way better than onions, yo.

"Sweet red onions! You don't have to cook them! They're delicious raw!" Sweet Cracker Sandwich! No! They're not! And they're even LESS "delicious" hours later. Summer recipes are particularly bad about featuring this villainous taste bud offender. Nothing will ruin a dish for me faster than biting down on a microscopic piece of red onion. As soon as my teeth hit it, it releases its toxic sulfuric gasses, and I might as well be in a foxhole during a mustard gas attack as far as my senses are concerned. The effect does not abate for hours... a full DAY, even.

Exchange "Hitler" with "The Chef". Stop hiding raw onions in my food!

When we first got married, my husband's mother (who is an excellent cook) used to follow recipes exactly. Meaning, if there was a salad dressing, sandwich, sauce or any portion or part of a dish that called for raw garlic, onion or shallot, she'd do it. And I'd politely eat it, wishing the whole time that I had a tall glass of Listerene instead of my goblet of ice water. The next morning was even worse. I get Allium Hangover. I wake up, looking around for the tiny elf who has dumped some vile substance in my mouth while I was sleeping. My mouth is raw, my stomach is unhappy, and all I can taste is the remnant vapours of Onion Gone Bad. Once we'd been married a few years, my groom finally told his mother that the raw garlic and shallots and onion really bothered both of us, and since then, she's been kind enough to give them a quick sweat in a pan before she uses them. Most of the time.

Recently we ate at one of our favorite restaurants, Marc's on Market. The owners are good friends of ours, but I've never really let my onion phobia out of the bag, for fear of being ridiculed by actual chefs. I had a delicious dinner that came with a "Caesar-style Asparagus Salad". Three bites into it - vile, noxious, raw "sweet" onion. (Who the hell came up with THAT description?)  The next morning, I rolled over in bed, looked bleary-eyed at my husband, breathed toxic fumes on him and said "I. Am. Going. To. Kill. Marc. Copenhaver." Isn't that awful? My favorite chef and close friend, and I'm thinking murderous thoughts all because of a little flowering plant.

It's terrible what raw onions will do to a girl.

So I'll be the hillbilly who asks the wait staff to hold the onion on the sandwich. The yahoo who scans the menu to see what the salad dressing contains. The cretin who delicately removes the rings of red onion from the salad and puts it on someone else's plate. And the cook who never, ever puts onion, garlic or shallots in ANYTHING she cooks without dropping it in a hot pan with a little olive oil first.


Audrey said...

I LIKE onions, but my husband LOVES them. He'll eat them raw, from a baggy, several days old when they are even hotter (vile-er) than ever (I throw mine out, personally). I totally understand your dilemma: I get basically the same reaction to egg yolks. No cream pies, creme brulee, true Caesar Salad. People get offended with "No thank you"--if they only understood!

Leigh said...

I will have to remember this if you ever eat at my house, says the woman that just ate a lunch of homemade country bread toasted and rubbed with garlic, along with cucumber/onion salad.