The naughty onion – a controversial and fascinating vegetable both in the past and in the present. Here are mythological, historical, and medical facts.
You either love them or hate them, but whichever way, there’s one thing you can’t deny. Onions are vegetables with personality. They flavour our dishes, they have a good effect on our health, they protect us against cold and flu and even cancer, as scientists have proved recently. Food wouldn’t taste the same if we took onions out of the equation. For all these reasons and more, onions remain a part of our life, even though they can get a little naughty and make us cry when we have no reason to cry.
Here are ten things about onions you might not be familiar with:
1. Onions were worshipped by ancient Egyptians because of their spherical form and concentric circles which were thought to symbolize eternal life. This explains why onions were found in the pyramids buried along with pharaons, because it was thought they could bring the dead back to life. When you consider how strong “onion breath” can be, maybe they weren’t so far away from the truth.
2. The word “onion” in English derives from the Latin term “unio”, which means “large pearl”. Whoever came with that idea must have liked onions, there’s no doubt.
3. Alexander the Great ordered his troups to eat onions because he believed it could improve their vitality. Whether onions were his secret weapon or not, he hasn’t done too bad. Maybe we should pay serious attention to his advice. At the worst, we can “exterminate” our enemies with our “onion breath”.
4. A good and efficient way to get rid of “onion breath” is to chew fresh parsley, coffee beans or caraway seeds. So there is a solution, after all! What a great relief for the onion lovers!
5. According to the Guiness Book of World Records, the giant of the giants in the onion world weighed 10 pounds 14 ounces, that is over 4 kilograms! It would have saved me from buying onions for months!
6. Chopped or diced onions can be frozen for future use. I never knew that was the case until I found the information online. I guess if you have to cry, you might as well cry your eyes once and make stocks for a longer time!
7. The easiest way to prevent tears caused by onions is to keep the onion in the fridge for a few hours before peeling and / or chopping it. Does it sound too easy? Maybe, but it works! I’ve tried it myself!
8. Apples, potatoes, and onions all taste the same when eaten with your nose plugged. If you don’t believe me, you can try it at home. But make sure you don’t have to go out that day.
9. Chewing a gum while cutting onions can also prevent tears. I haven’t tried that one but it sounds interesting. Or is it just a trick of making people buy more chewing gum?
10. Onion tissues are made of bigger cells than other plants and vegetables, that’s why they are often used by teachers as an exercise in using the microscope or to teach students the structure of a cell. Another “plus” for our little controversial vegetable friend!
Naughty, naughty: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away, an onion a day keeps everybody away.”
Scientifically proven: Onions offer protection against cancer. The more flavoured they are, the more protection they offer.
Conclusion: Even if the world runs away from you, don’t run away from onions!