Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Poetic Smells.

May 6 ...

It so happens that Christopher Morley, the poet who gave us yesterday’s quotation was born on this day in 1890. We should honour him by considering ‘onions fried and deeply browned.’

There is little doubt that onions are good for you – the evidence is building for the protective effects of onions against a whole range of malignancies including prostate and bowel cancer – although it has to be admitted, that such evidence as there is does not point to ‘onions fried and deeply browned.’

Fried onions: the smell of hot fat, caramelised sugar, and osmazome/umami. Resistance is futile – biology says so. We are programmed to salivate at the smell and seek out the source. There are always a few kill-joys around however, so let us get their opinions out of the way before we get on and enjoy some historic recipes for fried onions.

“Fried onions are dangerous things; not quite so much as raw ones, but very little less. Grossfeeders in this country are fond of fried onions with beefsteaks.”
[A book on vegetable cultivation, 1843]

‘Roasted and fried Onions should be avoided by persons of weak digestive powers.”
[A kitchen garden book, 1847]

“ … fried onions (a vegetable greatly in favour with the lower orders) … ”
[An article in the London Saturday journal, 1840]

And now for a fried onion recipe that can only be described as truly gilding the lily:

Fried Onions with Parmezan Cheese.
Pare six large mild onions, and cut them into round slices of half an inch thick. Then make a batter with flour, half a gill of cream, a little pepper, salt, and three eggs, beat up for ten minutes; after which add a quarter of a pound of parmezan cheese grated fine and mixed well together, to which add the onions. Have ready boiling lard; then take the slices of onions out of the batter with a fork singly, and fry them gently till done and of a nice brown colour. Drain them dry, and serve them up placed round each other. Melted butter with a little mustard in it to be served in a sauce boat.
[The Art of Cookery made Easy and RefinedJohn Mollard, 1802]

And something a little simpler:

Fried Potatoes, Apples, and Onions.
Fry brown a few pieces of salt pork, and take them up. Put into the fat, or part of it, raw peeled potatoes sliced very thin, first lying half an hour in ice-water, and fry them
till brown, occasionally stirring them. Fry sliced pleasant tart apples, and onions, in the same manner. Thus prepared, they make a cheap, plain, and good dish. The potatoes may be cut in shavings, like apple-parings, if preferred.
[The Improved Housewife, Or, Book of Receipts, A.L. Webster, 1843]

Tomorrow’s Story …

Using your brains.

Quotation for the Day …

Life is like an onion.
You peel it off one layer at a time;
And sometimes you weep.
Carl Sandburg.

1 comment:

Ferdzy said...

As a person of weak digestive powers I must sorrowfully concur with the garden book of 1847. I would still eat onion rings with parmesan cheese in the batter. Totally. Even if they kept me up all night.