General Question

tinyfaery's avatar

WTF is so special about onions?

Asked by tinyfaery (42696points) February 14th, 2015 from iPhone

(A bit of homage to the first fluther question.)

They smell like BO and make everything taste like someone sweat into your meal. Especially when you bite into one.

Why must onion be in everything?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

51 Answers

janbb's avatar

Like good sex, they add flavor and moisture to life.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Ya got me I like onions on some things, but your right they seem to b e on just about everything, you have to say NO onions, and people look at you like your from Mars.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I love the smell of cooking onions and like many things, the magic happens when you add them to other things. Cheese & onion, burgers/hotdogs & onions.

dxs's avatar

I love them so much I cry when I have to cut them up.

keobooks's avatar

I hate them raw, but I like to cook them until the caramelize and they go with just about any savory dish.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I love sauteed onions. They’re sweet.

jaytkay's avatar

I like onions. A favorite of mine lately is inch-long strips of white onion on salads and in eggs.

But I too wonder why they are such a huge part of cooking.

There an oft-repeated story – in 1864 General Grant telegraphed Washington to say “I will not move my army without onions.” They sent three train car loads. (from an 1899 book )

I’ve always found that story weird.

Aster's avatar

What food smells better than bacon frying with onions? I buy them by the bagful. I can’t cook without onions. Imagine a meatloaf without them, spaghetti sauce, a burger, stir fry or so many other things. It just doesn’t “make it” without onions.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Portabella mushrooms and onions sauteing together (which I did last night to put on the steak Rick cooked) smell heavenly.

Also, when we bake a potato we’ll often split the potato in half, then place a green onion in the middle, then wrap them back up together. That’s good.

ucme's avatar

Nothing, I despise everything about them.

majorrich's avatar

I like hot carmelized onions and bacon salad dressing over spinach. Something about that combination I really jones after periodically.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Well, @tinyfaery – that’s your opinion. I like onions and feel that they add taste.

Everyone to his own…

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Cook with them every chance I get. Omelet for tomorrow’s breakfast will have Lobster, Pepper Jack cheese and ONIONS.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Onions onions! Nom nom! And I can’t believe this is in General.

JLeslie's avatar

I like onions on some things, but not everything. I don’t want them in salad or raw on top of burgers, and they are put into both quite often at restaurants. I do like them sautéed on steak with lemon, and a small amount cut up into pico de gallo. Once in a while I add them to omelets.

The best are Vidalias. I look forward to them in the summertime. They make up for Honey Crisp apples being out of season.

What I don’t understand is why everything has so much garlic?! I blame Emeril. No Italian is using as much garlic as Americans at this point.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I don’t get why so many meals/recipes have to have chilli in them. I’m not really into chilli. I also don’t much like raw onion. Cooked, yum. Raw… not so much (except with cheese).

keobooks's avatar

Instead of chili, I use Asian sweet chili sauce. Tastes much milder than chili pepper but still has the flavor in it.

ibstubro's avatar

Any savory fried food cries out for added raw onions. There’s a local gas station that has the old-crinkle cut fries. I big order of them is $1.49 and I get a big glob of sliced raw onions to eat with them. Must have with fried fish – around here they offer sliced raw onions and tomatoes at all the fish fries.

ibstubro's avatar

I remember my uncles eating raw onions like apples…no shit!
You can hardly get too many onions on a salad, unless they’re very very ‘hot’.

Coloma's avatar

Oh man, onions are THE chefs backbone if you like amazing food. They add flavor to everything. What would chili, a great spaghetti sauce or almost anything be without onions?
I JUST made my famous pepper steak sandwiches last night.

My sauteed onions with orange, yellow and red bell peppers slathered on top of the steak with copious amounts of melted Provolone cheese…well…..onions rock!

tinyfaery's avatar

Theis is a general question.

The smell and taste of onion masks the flavor of EVERYTHING! Heave.

Any cooks/chefs have a feeling about onions and food?

It does not make everything better. I prefer a nuance of flavor.

Coloma's avatar

@tinyfaery I’m a great cook/chef, and onions are an ingredient in many dishes, if you don’t like them, just don’t eat them but don’t try to change cooking reality.
Cabbage and onions are an amazing combo, in my cole slaw as well as my famous baked cabbage.
It’s okay to not like them but it’s not okay to seek biased opinions as all good cooks and chefs will have nothing but good things to say about onions.

Haleth's avatar

They’re cheap, savory, aromatic, and versatile. The flavor/ texture changes depending on how you cook them, so you can get many different applications out of one ingredient. Like, you can have raw onions on a burger, just-cooked onions in fajitas or stir-frys, caramelized onions in soups and stews, or you can break them down completely as a base for curry. They add a zesty, spicy flavor to otherwise bland food.

Potatoes are about as cheap as onions, but you can only use them a handful of different ways. Flour is cheap, widely available, and versatile, but it doesn’t really have a flavor of its own. Onions are kind of a miracle ingredient, because they add flavor and can be used in so many ways. The only other thing that works like that well is maybe eggs. And they’re in everything, too.

tinyfaery's avatar

So people who can’t afford spices use a lot of onion?

Haleth's avatar

@tinyfaery I never thought about it that way, but that totally makes sense. A lot of the classic dishes we have today probably started as peasant foods. I just looked that up, and there are a couple very familiar things on there, like soul food, minestrone soup, and pot-au-feu (stew.) Most of our ancestors were probably poor farmers who cooked with whatever was on hand.

There are a couple recipes based on stale bread, like panzanella, French onion soup, and bread pudding. The peasant food thing might also be why other cultures have foods that seem strange to us. I just read an article about a Laotian restaurant in my city that serves ant egg salad. Burmese balachaung is a more familiar dish from readily-available ingredients. It’s made from dried shrimp, onions, and red pepper flakes. It’s dry, so it basically lasts forever, and it has a strong flavor, so a little goes a long way. Sprinkle a tiny bit over rice and it makes a satisfying meal.

Spices were really expensive back in the day, especially for people in Europe who had to get them from Asia. You can grow onions in your back yard. So I guess it makes sense that people would use onions.

LostInParadise's avatar

Onions work best in stews where, like spices, they add a subtle flavor.

JLeslie's avatar

If you hate onions I can see the problem. Something you hate you can almost always taste. Like I don’t like cream cheese, but everyone insists you can’t taste it in icing and other dishes, and believe me you can if you hate it.

Onions are basics in so many things. Soups, stews, salsas, ground beef everything, like meatloaf, burgers, meatballs. I use my chicken soup stock to make paella, and the onion is in the stock. I can go on and on, but I don’t need to tell you, you know already I’m sure.

What do you do when you’re in a restaurant? Do you ask if the dish is made with onions? I ask if a dish has garlic.

keobooks's avatar

@tinyfaery I think you have the same reaction to onion that I do to green pepper. So many people love it and find it a basic must have for so many dishes. I find that it tastes vile and inedible. It ruins everything it’s cooked with and soaks everything with green pepper flavor. You can’t just pick them out and be ok.

ibstubro's avatar

Onions were like herbs in native cooking…aromatic plants that were readily available locally that added flavor to foods. Because of the variety and durability of onions, they were used in some form in nearly every ethic cuisine.

Dutchess_III's avatar

My daughter just hates onions! She always has. Once I had cooked up a roast, with onions, potatoes and carrots. When I dished hers up I was careful to try and make sure no onions got dished up in her bowl.
We were eating, then she sticks her finger in her bowl and comes up with the tiniest piece of onion you can imagine stuck on her finger (it was too small to actually hold.) “What is THIS!” she demanded.
“It is a molecule,” I said.
“What is a molecule?” she asked.
My son, who was maybe 5 at the time said, “It’s a very, very, very tiny piece of frog.”

However, she loves the dried onions, like the ones used in green bean casserole. I always buy an extra can for her to munch on if I have a reason to make that dish. Go figure.

ibstubro's avatar

^Obviously the pecan tree was not on much of a slope.

keobooks's avatar

Oh I will eat RED peppers or YELLOW peppers. Just not the green ones. Sometimes I can tolerate the green ones if they are practically mush and lost all their flavor.

Maybe there’s a good substitute for general yellow/white onions. Maybe chives or bok choy.. I dunno.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Is there a difference in the taste between red, yellow and green peppers? I’ve never noticed. When I’m cooking baked beans for a special event I’ll use the red and yellow and orange for the color it ads.

keobooks's avatar

I think for most people, the taste is almost indistinguishable. But for me, and some other people I know, there is this bitterness in the green ones that is just plain nasty. These are the store bought bell peppers. There are many varieties of green bell peppers that you can grow in a garden that don’t taste like nastiness.

Coloma's avatar

Red, yellow and orange peppers are my secret ingredients in my spaghetti sauce and chili, so good and colorful too. I am not a big fan of green peppers either, prefer the sweeter others.

ibstubro's avatar

I’m not a green pepper fan, either. Most times they are immature fruit from varieties that will eventually turn red, yellow or purple. It’s akin to eating a green banana.

If green peppers are really browned, like in fajita, they’re good. More tolerable in other dishes if you roast and peel them.

Stinley's avatar

I love onions. When I was expecting my daughter I was vegetarian and onions were a huge part of my diet. Unfortunately she didn’t agree and I was not able to eat them for the whole nine months. She still hates them and does things like @Dutchess_III‘s daughter

Haleth's avatar

@keobooks @ibstubro Green peppers get their flavor from a chemical called pyrazines. Apparently it’s really strong and some people are very sensitive to it. The link talks about finding it in wine. Cabernet sauvignon, cab franc, and sauvignon blanc from cooler climates (unripe grapes) sometimes have a green peppery taste. The author of that article hates it. I think it adds a nice zestiness, but I’m probably not as sensitive to it.

tinyfaery's avatar

Maybe it’s a sensitive palate issue. I like the nuance of taste. I can definitely tell the difference between green, red and orange peppers.

Thanks for the interesting ideas. I don’t like spicy hot foods either. I know that those types of recipes were invented to hide the taste of poor meat.

ibstubro's avatar

There’s that unripe theme, again, @Haleth. I think that might be a key. Sounds to me like something in the unripe fruit that is meant to dissuade (undiscerning ~ ?) predators.

Coloma's avatar

Well…one recipe that cancels out onions is WAFFLES! lol
We’ve been on a 2 mornings in a row, bender of making gigantic Belgium waffles with the works, oooh mama! Let the hips expand. haha

Dutchess_III's avatar

You guys know Jalapeno poppers? Well, I’m really not into spicy food, but I love those things with the seeds taken out. The seeds are where the heat comes from. I tried making them with a small yellow pepper, about the same size as a jalapeno and it wasn’t the same at all.

ibstubro's avatar

Hmm…waffles and onions.

Try this, @Coloma:
Navy beans and ham
Caramelized onions
Jiffy Corn Bread Mix waffles.

Put a crispy-hot Jiffy waffle on a plate.
Spread with a generous amount of caramelized onions.
Top with beans and ham.


Cheese, of course, is optional under or over the onions or just shredded on top of the beans. :D

Coloma's avatar

^^^ Ooooh…taste bud orgasm!

OMG….why has nobody, including me, mentioned ONION RINGS!
Only the best thing in the world!

Coloma's avatar

Maybe we need to ask the OP to move this to “social.” No way can we resist foodie chat. lol

ibstubro's avatar

I just mentioned onion rings on my mustard thread, @Coloma. lol
Onion rings and homemade honey mustard sauce!

Brian1946's avatar

I love raw and cooked onions, but only these onions are special. ;-)

Here’s a scene from Seinfeld you’d probably want to avoid:

George, as he reaches into Jerry’s fridge and grabs what he thinks is an apple: “I don’t need glasses.”

George bites into the “apple” and immediately expels the bite from his mouth.

Jerry: That’s an onion, and you DO need glasses!

longgone's avatar

No idea. Ungh. Hate them.

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