Onions

By: Ken Mossman
If I could measure, in some way, what's been created in my kitchen over the years, I think it would all come down to onions. Don't know if they'd be Metric or English onions, all I know is they would be onions just the same.This afternoon I was in the kitchen between client calls and my office phone, which was on the counter beside me, rang. I had my hands deep in a bowl of boneless chicken thighs and homemade barbecue goop. I was doing some early prep for the evening's festivities - school and work-night indoor BBQ - a little bit sweet, a little bit salty, a touch of sour, letting the heat slide by in a nod to my son who, for some reason, prefers not to set fire to the inside of his mouth in the interest of culinary experimentation. On the other end of the phone was a very friendly fellow from L.A., who wanted to know if I had any interest in sinking a few thousand bucks into a new film starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. We had a rather nice chat about cooking, movies, and how he came to pluck my name from a list of folks who might be interested in sinking spare dollars into things like movies starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. After some idle chat, we took our leave of one another. I returned to chopping shallots and garlic (both members of the onion family, of course) and he, I presume, returned to calling others from his list of folks who might be interested in sinking a few thousand bucks into a film starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. I was quite tickled by the whole conversation, which occurred about twenty minutes after my previous conversation with another equally friendly fellow - also from L.A. - who wanted to know if I'd have any interest in plunking down a few thousand dollars to purchase a mess of soy beans.

Evidently I'm listed among a group of "certified" individuals who's net worth makes it possible for them to regularly drop a few thou into movies, TV shows, and tons o' beans. And just in case you're wondering - the answer is no - at least not yet... I have to admit, there is something about those calls that's sort of motivating, what with those nice, friendly gents calling to ask for spare dollars. I look forward to saying, "Well, yes I do have a some money lounging lazily about that is simply dying to get into the pictures!" Or not... By the way, if anyone is within a few degrees of separation of Cuba Gooding, Jr., I think he'd be fun to have to dinner. Maybe we'll whip up a tofu dish, a fitting way to close the circle between the two calls from Los Angeles. Oh, and do give Mr. Gooding my number, would you? Back to the onions... The humble allium, which plays so many roles in the kitchen, has the distinction of being the cause of both tears and unimaginable delights. I couldn't begin to count the number of meals Danielle and I have prepared and served to family and other guests over the years. In each of those meals (some breakfasts notwithstanding) some form of onions were as present as good company and conversation. Onions and their kin have changed lives. Just picture the number of happy couples who have fallen for one another in the presence of onions - with our without fine wine... I remember the winter I lived with my buddy Dan in Woodstock, NY. He had a strange aversion to garlic that dated back to his childhood when his mother, who is an accomplished cook, had presented him with a dish that included ample hunks of the stuff in a raw state. I did my best to accommodate his tastes - for one night. We took turns cooking on alternate evenings. I had learned pretty early on that if I cooked for myself - and I enjoyed what I made - others would enjoy my creations, too. I theorized that it wasn't the taste of garlic that got to Dan, rather it was the sight of it. Being the resourceful sort, rather handy with a knife, and not above some forms of treachery, on my next night of cooking I just chopped the stuff up finer and kept my mouth shut. "Wow, Mossy, this is really good," said Dan. "What's in it?" This and that and that and this, I answered. "Oh, and a bunch of garlic." He was stunned. And instantly - and dangerously - converted. (After that, Dan started putting garlic in just about everything - including the infamous Babaganouj Omelet - not always a pretty picture...) I suppose what's captured my imagination is the rather odd omnipresence of onions, so common that most of us don't stop to think about them. To me, they've become a reminder of the less visible things I'm happy to have in my life, the blessings, like those small bits of garlic, that manage to sneak in unnoticed, yet add depth, subtlety and flavor. When I left my last cooking job almost twenty years ago, I swore that, from that moment on, I would only cook for people I love.As I finished off the barbecue sauce and slipped the marinating chicken into the fridge, I noticed a peeled shallot I'd left sitting on a cutting board. I looked over it, turned my eyes to take in the frozen trees outside and smiled. Try as I mightScience Articles, I couldn't imagine how many onions I'd gone through since making that pledge.

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