Wednesday, November 17, 2010

O Onion, Onion! What’d I do without thou?

Onion is one of those ingredients that give a very savory taste and aroma to many dishes. Cooked or raw onion gives good taste to a food. Even thought a lot could be said about that my intention here is not to praise the very nature of onion but to express my concern on our addiction – that is right, I call it addiction.
It is not that I have anything against the exotic vegetable; it is just that it has caused some of us some embarrassment – by us you know who I mean – due to its distinctive smell. Few years back, I used to give computer training classes in Ethiopian Community center here in DC. The classes weren’t that big, may be a pack of 8 to 10, so I used be almost a close friend to all and they with each other .They never felt they were coming to class but joining in their groupie. One of the students have a very good habit of coming to class early, she even got there earlier than I did some times.
 One day I walked into the class to find this student of mine and the welcoming smell of a well prepared and cooked berbere sauce (Kulet).The first thing that came to my mind was that, she must have brought some food for the class seeing that we were about to finish the training a week later so I said “Jens, Did you bring some food? That is very thoughtful of you” she turned to face me from she was sitting with her right hand still striking the keys on the keyboard and said “I didn't,,,,, why did you say that ?” I wish I bit my tongue but continued saying “It is just that it smells of wot in here” I could see her index finger paused on holding the ‘J’ key for so long making  the frog on Mavis Bacon freeze on the air instead of jumping. She said, with a trembling soft voice, “but I was cooking at my home this morning ...but I had all the doors closed and all windows open…is it that bad ?” right when I was about to say “no” another student walked in  and said “ Emmm Jens  nice wot in here….. you brought us some food yay!!!”  She smiled and told her whole story again.
We spent the first half hour of the class listening to the wot appreciation and Jens supplication as each student came in the class.
Not only small provoking embracement here and there that but also that the smell of onion has become our brand or signal that an abesha is around. For instance when we walk in a elevator or a bus, you can tell if one is around without even looking!!! I swear that I did not come up with this but I heard that it is given a nick name “Yeabesha deodorant”. I have a friend who carries a fabric freshener in his car to use it on any one who hopes in with the Onio-Odor. I thought it was a bit extreme but it is desperate measure.
Let’s think for a moment that we, against all odds, agree to stop using onion in any of our cooking. I mean totally stop, not in Shiro and not even in Doro. I mean dead stop!!! .How long do you think it would take you till you start panicking even from the thought of it? Not so long am sure. It is just impossible because if you really want to enjoy a great Ethiopian food, a delicious bozena shiro or derq tibis ,doro or yeabesha pasta it necessarily needs to be garnished with the prime, if not sole, ingredient - the royal onion. If you want to read my suggestion on how to overcome Onio-Odor click here

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