What’d an onion ever do to you?

My husband doesn’t like onions. Actually, that’s a vast understatement. My husband loathes onions. He hates onions with such passion, I’m convinced he must have had a traumatic childhood experience with one that scarred him for life. Like, he fell headfirst into a barrelful of rotting onions and no one found him until the next morning. Perhaps his brothers held him down and forced him to eat onions against his will. Or maybe he just overindulged one night, was violently sick and nursed himself through an onion hangover, swearing “never again.” Like a bad high school peach schnapps experience. In any case, his dislike of onions borders on pure hatred. I’m not exaggerating – anyone who ever eaten with my husband will back me up on this point.

If hubby thinks he sees, smells, tastes or hears a hint that an onion might have been used in the recipe, it’s game over. He will not even take a bite to be polite. I have been slightly embarrassed on one or two occasions when we’ve been at someone’s home who’s cooked something lovely for us, only to have hubby turn up his nose and refuse to take even a single taste. And I can’t count the number of times in restaurants that hubby has sent a plate back because it was delivered to our table containing the offending item.

Hubby is usually very diligent about specifically requesting no onions, but even so, some slip by every now and then. You should see him if God forbid, a salad arrives with a few slices, or a burger comes topped with a small stack of onion straws. Superman encountering Kryptonite is no less dramatic. In several instances, meals have turned into a joke when a sent-back plate comes back still containing onions even after a request to remove them.

When my husband moved to Germany five years ago during our courtship, the first phrase he learned wasn’t “Where’s the bathroom?” or “My name is…” It was “NEIN ZWEIBEL!” One guess what that means.

Being the self-proclaimed “golden boy” of the family, hubby’s mom will actually cook a separate onion-free version of whatever she’s making just for him. This is no small feat, considering the woman usually prepares meals for any number of her seven children, plus their spouses and kids at any given time. This is the precedent I married into.

It’s amazing to learn just how many recipes contain onions until you are forbidden from using them. Through the four years of our marriage, I’ve learned it’s easier to just leave onions out whenever the recipes call for them. Otherwise, I end up dining alone. Hubby is convinced onions add nothing to a dish whatsoever and refuses to believe they lend anything beneficial by way of nutrition or flavor. I disagree. If you’ve ever had chili or a nice spaghetti sauce sans onions, I feel it lacks a little something, but I’ve managed to learn to live without and survive.

When I mention to other people that my husband thinks onions are vile, I have found a small but surprisingly vocal number of folks who heartily agree. Why all the haters?? What is it about the humble onion that brings out the worst in people? For many, it seems to be either an issue of texture or flavor, neither of which I can fully understand. Most people dislike the taste, for others, it’s the mouth-feel. It’s rare to find those who hate them across the board.

A few weeks ago, I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner and remembered I had some leftover frozen empanada filling from a dinner I’d hosted for some girlfriends last month. I had two versions to work with: a black bean/corn mixture, and a beef/potato blend that contained the tiniest bit of onion, along with a ridiculous amount of chili powder, cumin and other seasoning that MORE than drowned out any offending flavor. The onions, by the way, were all but grated into oblivion before I added them to the beef and not even visible to the naked eye. I knew if hubby knew they were there, he would refuse to eat it, but for the first time in the course of our marriage, I wondered if I could pull one over on him. So I made the empanadas and took my chances.

When we sat down to eat, hubby inhaled a couple of the veggie empanadas, proclaiming them delicious. Then he got hold of one of the meat empanadas. One bite in… “Are there onions in this??? How could you let me eat this and not say anything!” It was wrong, I know. I don’t know why I thought I could get away with it, but honestly, we’re talking about something like a teaspoon of minced onion mixed into about two pounds of ground beef. I just didn’t believe he would notice it or taste it; I certainly couldn’t. In any case, the trust is now gone. Any item I’ve served since has been eaten only after INTENSE scrutiny, a series of hardcore questions and a thorough visual and olfactory examination.

Personally, while I don’t particularly like eating raw onions, I quite enjoy them cooked and incorporated into dishes. Such as sautéed in butter and added to scrambled eggs with some cheddar cheese, or carmelized until succulent then draped over a roasted chicken breast or pork chop. And I must ‘fess up to an occasional jaunt through Burger King drive-thru for an order of rings, slathered in ketchup.

Oddly enough, my husband can eat garlic like nobody’s business. Go figure.

Common onion - Allium cepa

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2 thoughts on “What’d an onion ever do to you?

  1. Amy, what a cool blog! 🙂

    Also, I am RIGHT THERE with your husband!! Onions are horrible, vile, icky things.

    The worst thing you can do is try to sneak some in there. They WILL be detected. And don’t ever try the “But you haven’t tried THESE onions…” “What about Vidalias?” “Those aren’t onions – they’re scallions/leeks.”

    The dumb thing is, I will happily eat garlic all day long. Raw garlic, straight from the press. It’s not the same at all.

    I was such a picky kid growing up – I felt like a freak! Then I started reading up on “supertasters” and have concluded that I fit somewhere on that continuum. Your husband probably does, too.

    I’m not picky, I’m a supertaster!

  2. Hubby here. My particular hate is when you order a pizza specifying no onions, and dolly taking your order nods while taking the order. You cannot stress the ‘no onion’ factor too much or she will think you are a dick and your pizza will have no onions but some nose pickings and saliva instead!
    Then the pizza arrives, alas with onions. Your plate disappears back to the kitchen to be replaced a ‘new’ item suspiciously quickly, whick of course is the original pizza with the onions removed.
    Taking onions from your pizza is like changing your socks mid-workout: your feet are still sweaty and smelly!

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