Respecting the ‘terrible and great’ onion

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Unfortunately, onions are one of the most prevalent ingredients in nearly all world cuisines.

This simple and resilient vegetable is embedded into everyday foods, which is a predicament for those who truly despise them. 

Onion haters like myself plead our home cooks to leave out the onions in a dish, even if they swear “you won’t even notice!” But boy are they wrong.

An onion hater can sense the presence of them in any meal. With a distinct smell and taste, they are very hard to miss.

There is a lot to not like about onions: they can be very harsh tasting, they make you cry when you chop them, and the texture leaves an unpleasant feeling of bug guts. They seem to be in most dishes, and when they are, they overwhelm the entire dish.

With onions being in many foods, this defaults onion haters to being very picky eaters, bringing embarrassment upon them when custom ordering their food. They are mocked by their onion-apologist family, friends or significant other for the audacity of having a preference for no onions on their food..

Any culinary up and comer must come to terms with the onion. Even if they hate them.

Unfortunately, the truth about onions is that they are a great addition to a dish when used right.

One of the top items at the popular In-N-Out restaurant is the Double Double with the choice of grilled or raw onions. Though the burger still contains onions, the experience of grilled onions vs. raw are substantially different.

Raw onions add extremely harsh flavor to the burger and give an unsatisfying crunch. Grilled onions on the other hand, are sublime. They give rich flavor and don’t have the bite that raw onions do.

While grilled onions shine in flavor, raw onions work better as a garnish. For example, street tacos usually include finely diced onion that balances out the heat of a salsa.

Food pairing and context matter when having onions on a dish.

What onions lack in the texture department, it makes up for in aroma and flavor. There are ways to appreciate the flavor of an onion without actually having to bite into one. So what can onion haters do to let them experience the secret wonders of onion?

Cook for themselves. The best way to enjoy a dish your way is to make it yourself. You are no longer subject to trusting someone else to make your meals the way you want.

Don’t use onions in large amounts. Many great dishes can be ruined by an overwhelming amount of onion. Since they pack so much flavor, it is easy to go overboard.

Use grilled onions as a topping. Finely chopped grilled onions add lots of flavor and aroma without the harsh texture of larger chunks. Onions cooked in this manner sinfully water the mouth with the ever alluring aroma, gently beckoning the eater towards it.

Onions are terrible and great. Even though they may feel wretched, any onion hater can be an onion neutral if showed the true beauty. They walk the thin line of what is delicious, and what is poison and should be considered carefully when put on a dish. Respect the onion.