Soul Kitchen: A Meditation on the Onion (the Allium, not the Newspaper)

It's been a bad day for cultural icons. And it's been a bad year for, well, most everything. I don't know about you, but about all I want to do right now is go home and read Marcella Hazan under a blanket. With the newspapers running obits and Iran coverage, and the Internet slowing to a processional crawl as everyone watches Thriller on YouTube, it may be time to retreat into the kitchen and take some solace in a contemplative moment with your Le Creuset crockpot.

Moments like this require dispensing with the market trawl, with the earnest thumbing of cookbooks, with much thought at all. What do you need? Try some onions. You're probably crying already.

Windrose Farm's torpedo onions
Windrose Farm's torpedo onions
Photo credit: Amy Scattergood

If you're a farmers market groupie, you might have short day onions right now: Mauis and Vidalias and Texas sweet onions, maybe some Stockton Early Reds, from Schaner Family Farms, or some of Windrose Farm's purple Torpedo onions (pictured above), which look more like Stanley Kubrick's idea of an allium than anything you'd dice into a frittata. If you're not a produce sort of person, look around: even the most resolute caffeine junkies and Norwegian bachelor farmers can usually find a stray onion somewhere in a drawer or a root cellar.

Once found, onions require little. Dice them and sauté them with some decent Spanish olive oil in a pan, throw in some salt, some chiles, a pinch of sugar. From there all you need is an omelet in which to embed them, maybe with some wilted greens. Or fry the onions until they're bronzed and filigreed and scatter them over a bowl of bucatini with a bit of grated Grana Padano, some breadcrumbs crisped in the same pan, or--if you've just got that stimulus payout to your unemployment check--a small rain of bottarga. Or just spoon them up with a bit of bread and a hunk of Fra'Mani Salame Nostrano. Whatever. It's your Lexapro moment.


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