After the last couple more technical posts I thought it was about time to try something lighter. I strongly dislike the taste of onions. In general, I have the culinary aptitude of a coyote. I will eat just about anything. But I really dislike onions. The dislike is strong enough in me that almost everyone who knows me at all knows this about me. I don’t like onion rings. I don’t like onion dip. I don’t like onion soup. I have never ordered a blooming onion at any steak house. When I eat at someone’s home and they serve up an onion laden dish, I quietly eat as small a portion as I can politely get by with and smile – though I’d rather be eating a bowl of dirt. I remember how it started. I can tell you I was no more than four years old and at my maternal grandmother’s house on a Sunday afternoon. The table was heavy laden with food of all sorts – always the case at Grandma’s – including a big veggie tray fresh from the garden. It included a stack of spring onions with trimmed greens still attached. It was those greens that got me. They were so bright and attractive they just had to be good! My little fingers closed around one and brought it straight to my mouth. Several coughing and gagging minutes later I knew the truth – I don’t like onions. Several times in my life I have tested the theory that my original experience was only a mismatched expectation thing – you know – you sip a glass of iced tea thinking it’s a glass of cola (usually because someone put iced tea in a two liter pop bottle) – it tastes terrible – for cola. Then you discover it’s iced tea. It tastes fine for iced tea. Maybe I was just expecting the onion to taste like – I don’t know – something else – and was offput by surprise. Or maybe I was a super-taster and age would wear down my tastebuds until I could tolerate onions better. After all, there are other foods I thought I didn’t like when I was a kid that I love now. My first experience with hot peppers (about age 15) was unpleasant. I love them now. Ditto horseradish. So I have tried – and tried. I recall a kabob with various veggies – and fruits and mushrooms - between little cubes of meat. There was a morsel of red onion. It looked so savory and appealing. A moment later I needed a piece of sandpaper for my tongue. And there’s the surprises when you aren’t consciously experimenting. I always speak very slowly and clearly to the waitress, the person at the counter or the drive through speaker – No Onions. Apparently, when I say ‘No’, some people hear ‘Only’ or ‘Extra’. On an open face dish at least you can send it back right away. On a sandwich – well, a slice of bread covers a multitude of sins and the next thing you know I need a piece of sandpaper. Not only is the taste of onion unpleasant at first blush – it STICKS WITH YOU! On one of our late-night Christmas Eve trips from N.E Ohio to my folks place in Central Indiana, I got surprised in just that way. BTW – drive through is worse because you are back on the interstate before you discover the sabotage! But I took a big bite and right away knew I was had. I tried to muscle through but ended by emptying my mouth into a napkin and tossing the sandwich back into the bag for later disposal. But I just kept tasting and smelling the onion. Neither the French fries nor the soft drink brought any cessation of the terrible essence of onion! A couple hundred smelly miles later, across the Indiana State line, making a bathroom stop, the mirror in the gas station restroom revealed that my exercise with the napkin had left a large sliver of onion plastered right across the bulb of my nose. I removed the offensive matter promptly and upon rejoining my family in the car said – You all knew and just weren’t going to tell me, right?! To this day they all insist they never noticed. What can you expect from a bunch of onion eaters?! I know – it’s difficult to imagine other people enjoying a taste you find disagreeable and the majority of the world enjoys the taste of onion. Well, you can all have my share!
Pastor and Author Terry Bailey, Senior Minister of Indian Run Christian Church