Let’s hear it for…the onion!

Let’s hear it for…the onion!

Yes, after a recent post about foods people don’t like, it seemed only fair to look at food which we simply cannot do without.

My kitchen always has a good selection of vegetables in stock (or being turned into stock ;) ), but there is one type of vegetable which if I don’t have thenkitchen, we have a problem.

photo credit: ilovebutter via photopin cc Follow Me on Pinterest

photo credit: ilovebutter via photopin cc

The humble onion is possibly the king of veggies, since it is used everywhere and by everyone to impart its sweet, savoury, tangy flavour. Once I started thinking about it, it becomes hard to find a dish where onions aren’t a big part.

The human race has cultivated and eaten onions for thousands of years, and they have permeated the taste buds of the whole planet…no mean feat for something that makes you cry when you cut into it!

Think of any major cuisine which actually avoids onions…no? Funny I can’t either. Whether French, Indian, Chinese or Mexican, no onion…no can do.

Be it white, red, sweet, Spanish, shallot or the spring variety (scallions), without them our eating pleasure would be severely affected. Can you imagine a world without them? No pickled onions for your ploughman’s lunch? No crispy onion rings?

photo credit: brizzle born and bred via photopin cc Follow Me on Pinterest

photo credit: brizzle born and bred via photopin cc

The French have a reputation for one of the most sophisticated cuisines in the world and so revered is the onion there that they have based there national soup around them.

Almost all other nations of the world have an image of the French dressed in Breton shirts, berets and riding around on a bicycle in the guise of…you guessed it, an onion seller!

If that isn’t a recommendation then I don’t know what is…

I have heard about people who can eat onions like apples. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but I love them. Whether lifting a salad to a whole new level, being crispy fried as a garnish or slowly softened so their mellow flavour infuses into a pasta sauce, there really is nothing to touch them.

I am going off to shed a tear or two for the onion…but they will be tears of joy!

What do you think? Can you think of any other foodstuff that can match the onion for versatility?

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The Food Curator
The Food Curator (AKA Michael Robinson) is an aficionado of all things food and bon viveur based in London. A passion for cooking and dining has driven him to put fingers to keyboard to bring you his thoughts on the world of food. When not writing, eating or cooking he has a love of American muscle cars. Pop on over to my Facebook page and let's start a Facebook food revolution together: http://tinyurl.com/thefoodcurator
The Food Curator

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  1. Great article about what we can’t live without. I substitute sweet peppers now and again for the sake of variety but they are somehow not as satisfying as onions. Why? It’s a mystery to me, but they are loved.

    • Lisa, Thank you! If cooking is alchemy then there is something magic about the onion. :)

  2. Hi Michael! I guess I never really thought about this and I do have to agree with you, I may run out of certain vegi;s but never onions. I put onions in pretty much everything. Thanks for sharing Chery :)

    • Chery, it seems maybe they are the king of veggies then :)

  3. With an onion and the dry goods you always have a meal waiting to happen…and I hear they have great healing properties too…a must in any good kitchen as even if one doesn’t cook, I love it raw in a sandwich! A lovely celebration of the onion…been trying to think if there is anything else that could sit alongside it and you know I cannot think of it – I think the onion may well be unique in its position!
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    • For me a cheese and raw onion sandwich is one of the best combinations you can have :)

  4. Hi Michail,
    thank you for providing this interesting article on onions.

    When I was a small child I thought an onion was an apple and I took a bite – I only started liking onions again as an adult.

    A word of caution, leaving part of an onion for eating later can have unwanted side effects.
    I have planted the lower half of an onion and harvested ‘onion chives’ for a long time for salads and soups.


    • Yorinda, thanks for the tip on “onion chives” will check it out :)

  5. Hi Michael,

    When I was a kid I did eat onions like apples. Yes very true! Of course my family thought I was an odd ball, but yes I am.

    Onions are something I always have in stock. The healing properties are wonderful. Whenever I cook anything it contains either onions or garlic. Maybe it is because of my Italian heritage, but I love onions!


    • The thought of eating them raw like that is making my eyes water ;)

  6. I enjoy onions for their flavor and especially like the red onions in a salad. The yellow I like to use in cooking. In younger years, I did not fancy the onion and I was a rather boring cook, but over the years I have come to learn more about flavoring my foods. I love the aroma of sauteing onions. Oh, if you wear contacts….there is no tears when cutting the onions. :)
    Lovin the onion,

    • They are so versatile raw or cooked. I’ve heard a few recommendations for stopping tears when chopping onions, but yours makes the most sense :)

  7. I come from some onion eating fools!…..I can think of one other that we always have in the kitchen besides onions……The potato!…..we have a bag of each right now!…..They both keep well, and even go good together!…….One of my favorite things to put on a baked potato is sour cream and green onions…….I have to stop….I’m getting hungry…..I bet it will have onions with it ….what ever I eat!…..Thanks Michael….Smokey

    • Smokey, they do go with almost everything it is a must have in my kitchen to have a bag of onions. Also gotta love the potato that’s one of the only foods which can sustain us on it’s own….

  8. Always on hand: Onions, garlic, bananas and avocados – weird combination – but use/eat all 4 almost every day (not together though – haha) – Love to cook onions slowly in olive oil until they caramelize – fantastic with just about anything – used to try to cook onions too quickly – slowing down the process makes for much more nuanced flavor.

    • Marty, I think a lot of us have cooked onions too fast. Some dishes call for it, others don’t. The best description I’ve heard is from an Italian who said the onions must “melt” in the pan….yum yum :)

  9. Onions are an amazing food, as you point out here, Michael.

    They have been used to boost your immune system, improve gastric ulcers and reduce inflammation of the joints. These are just a few of their remedial uses.

    They also taste great and enhance just about any dish you can think of. Bon appetit.

    • David, they really do have a lot of health benefits. What a magical little bulb the onion is :)

  10. Yes, I noticed during the winter I have used more onions than ever. I have it twice a day and then some. I did find a person who eats them like apples yet that is based on the night before with vast celebrations. It seems that it does something to mask the effects of a heavy night.

    I love the various uses of this veggie and could not stop laughing when I read this article. You do know how to make us hungry, I am off to make me something with onions now!

    • William, now using them as a hangover cure is a new one…I might have to try that ;)

  11. Hi Michael,

    Onion is amazing and I admit that it is a food that is always in my kitchen. Without onion, it is just not possible for me to cook certain dishes. Depends on the type of food we prepared, it can be eaten raw, used in curry to bring out the flavour..we usually blend onions till very fine, used as garnishing and etc etc.

    In Asian cooking or I would rather say Asian Chinese, we believe so much in the healing properties of onion especially to expel wind from the body :-)

    Thank you very much for this post, Michael. Honestly speaking, I didn’t realise it is something we can’t live without till I read your awesome post !

    Looking forward to read more from your post, Micahel.

    Pearly Quah

    • Pearly, it’s amazing how many health properties people have attributed to the onion! It seems it is THE essential vegetable to have in the kitchen :)

  12. I also love onions and use them in almost everything. I was actually allergic to onions (among other things) as a kid. My mom had to make all our meals without them. I’m thankful that I’m no longer allergic to them! One of my favorite things is to use green onions — in salads, as a garnish on my veggie stir fry (a bit more than just a garnish, though) and in omelettes. Yum :).
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    • Leanne, I feel for you having to miss out on the wonderful onion for all those years. Love green onions (we call them spring onions in the UK), they have a really distinct delicious flavour…keep enjoying!


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