According to our egghead pals over at Wikipedia, the onion has a long and glorious past. For instance, get this:
•Ancient Egyptians used to worship onions. That’s right — they believed their spherical shape and concentric rings symbolized eternal life. They also used to bury their dead with onions, figuring that the strong smell would eventually bring them back to life.
• In Ancient Greece, the athletes used to munch on onions because they thought it would lighten the weight of their blood. Remember: this was before Atkins.
• Roman gladiators were rubbed down with onions to firm up their muscles. Probably also helped them slip out of tough bear hugs and sleeper-holds, too.
• Okay, last one: in the Middle Ages, onions were more valuable than a new jousting sword or a decent moat subcontractor. People paid rent with them and gave them as presents. Doctors even prescribed them to move bowels, stifle coughs, lift erections, and kill headaches. Seriously, imagine a big bag of onions wedged between the eye drops and skin cream at the drug store. That’s what it was like back then.
Anyway, given that illustrious past of the almighty onion, I sort of feel like they don’t get enough credit these days. We don’t worship them like we used to, but maybe we should. After all, they’re still cheap, healthy, and easy to store. And they really do have a lot of healthy properties. Plus, and here’s the best part, they smell delicious when they’re frying in a sizzling glob of butter.
Yes, when you walk into a house and smell those onions frying, it’s a beautiful moment. Partly because they smell delicious, partly because it means someone’s cooking dinner, and partly because now you have to solve the mystery of what’s cooking. It could be anything, really: perogies, sausages, curry, maybe a stir fry? The point is that the house smells great and you can’t help but start salivating.
So next time you’re frying up a pan full of onions and sniffing up that delicious aroma, just remember to stop for a second and think about its proud and noble heritage. Because they’ve come a long way to be part of your dinner tonight. And they’re happy to be here.