10.13.2010

The Israeli and the Onion: A Very Short Story

One summer an Israeli guy lived in my basement for a couple of days. We decided to make a vegetarian lasagna from a recipe so lame, if he had not been there to help, we'd have eaten at Pompeii that night.

I began to follow the directions, per my usual approach, sauteing the onions cluelessly. "Do you think these are done?" I asked him. He was snacking on chips and salsa, sitting at the kitchen island. He got up, walked over and peered into the pot, finished his chip and said, "No, these are not ready. Here, give me the spoon." He stirred away, fixating his big brown eyes on the onions. "See?" he said, holding a weathered piece in his hand. "They should all look like this." He popped it into his mouth and smiled. "Why?" I asked. "I don't know, but that's how my mother does it. I guess it's how you get the most flavor." Thank you, angel.

Dinner was a delight. Partly because the food was good (not great), mostly because of the company. The name of that recipe was Luscious Vegetarian Lasagna. Go figure. I will not be posting it to this site. It was a teaching moment for me, and with that I pass on the following information to see you through chilis, soups, sauces, even a casserole or two. Good luck. We're all counting on you.

Bad directions
Cook and stir onion in hot oil in large skillet over medium high heat until onion is golden. No! Stop, drop and roll!

Better directions
Chop the onion into 1 inch (or so) pieces. Heat the oil over medium high heat until pretty hot. The oil almost starts to look thinner when it's ready. If you see tiny bubbles forming, turn down the heat a little. Stir in onion and cook over medium heat, keep it sizzling, but not too much because you don't want the onion to burn. Cook until translucent, stirring, shaking the pan, keeping them happy. They should all have a little wiggle room in there. As they cook they shrink, which is good, don't be afraid. Keep them cooking (stir! shake!) until they look all loosey goosey and translucent.

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