artratcafe CAFE – The Onion…

For the next while artratcafe CAFE will be celebrating vegetables and offering them to you in fresh abundance. This week we sing the praises of the humble but classic onion with inspiration from two poets and a number of classic painters. The first poem is by Lorna Crozier (b. 1948), a Canadian poet and the Head Chair in the Writing Department at the University of Victoria. The poem, Onions, is from her sensual and delightful book of poems, The Sex Lives of Vegetables:
“The onion loves the onion.
It hugs its many layers,
saying, O, O, O,
each vowel smaller
than the last.

Some say it has no heart.
It surrounds itself,
feels whole. Primordial.
First among vegetables.

If Eve had bitten it
instead of the apple,
how different

The second poem is a somewhat longer and more romantic Ode to the Onion by the Chilean poet, diplomat and politician Pablo Neruda (1904-1973).


luminous flask,
your beauty formed
petal by petal,
crystal scales expanded you
and in the secrecy of the dark earth
your belly grew round with dew.
Under the earth
the miracle
and when your clumsy
green stem appeared,
and your leaves were born
like swords
in the garden,
the earth heaped up her power
showing your naked transparency,
and as the remote sea
in lifting the breasts of Aphrodite
duplicating the magnolia,
so did the earth
make you,
clear as a planet
and destined
to shine,
constant constellation,
round rose of water,
the table
of the poor.






You make us cry without hurting us. I have praised everything that exists,
but to me, onion, you are more beautiful than a bird of dazzling feathers, heavenly globe, platinum goblet,
unmoving dance of the snowy anemone                                                                                                                             and the fragrance of the earth lives
in your crystalline nature”.




And what is a celebration of the onion without a classic recipe: French Onion Soup:

50 g butter
3 large onions, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/3 c flour
3 c stock
1/4 c white wine
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs of thyme
baguette, sliced
3/4 c grated Gruyère
Dijon mustard

In a heavy pot, melt the butter over medium high heat and begin to cook the onions. Lower the heat to medium-low and stir occasionally for 25 minutes until the onions begin to caramelize and turn golden brown.

Add the garlic and flour and continue to stir for 2 minutes. Begin to blend the stock, 1 cup at a time and add the white wine. Stir continuously and bring to a boil. Add the bay leaf and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for an additional 25 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.

Slice the baguette and spread a thin layer of mustard on each. Preheat the broiler in the oven and cover the soup with an even layer of baguette slices. Top with the Gruyère cheese. Slide under the broiler and cook until the cheese has melted and begins to bubble.

Ladle into a bowl and serve with one or two of the baguette slices. Delicious with a salade niçoise.

Image Credits from top to bottom: Still Life with Cat and Onions by Boris Grigoriev. 1928.  The Onions by Pierre Renoir. 1881.   Still Life with Drawing Board and Onions by Vincent van Gogh. The Red Onions by Henri Matisse.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Google Images.   Information Credits: Wikipedia.

12 thoughts on “artratcafe CAFE – The Onion…

  1. Monologue for an Onion
    by Suji Kwock Kim

    I don’t mean to make you cry.
    I mean nothing, but this has not kept you
    From peeling away my body, layer by layer,

    The tears clouding your eyes as the table fills
    With husks, cut flesh, all the debris of pursuit.
    Poor deluded human: you seek my heart.

    Hunt all you want. Beneath each skin of mine
    Lies another skin: I am pure onion–pure union
    Of outside and in, surface and secret core.

    Look at you, chopping and weeping. Idiot.
    Is this the way you go through life, your mind
    A stopless knife, driven by your fantasy of truth,

    Of lasting union–slashing away skin after skin
    From things, ruin and tears your only signs
    Of progress? Enough is enough.

    You must not grieve that the world is glimpsed
    Through veils. How else can it be seen?
    How will you rip away the veil of the eye, the veil

    That you are, you who want to grasp the heart
    Of things, hungry to know where meaning
    Lies. Taste what you hold in your hands: onion-juice,

    Yellow peels, my stinging shreds. You are the one
    In pieces. Whatever you meant to love, in meaning to
    You changed yourself: you are not who you are,

    Your soul cut moment to moment by a blade
    Of fresh desire, the ground sown with abandoned skins.
    And at your inmost circle, what? A core that is

    Not one. Poor fool, you are divided at the heart,
    Lost in its maze of chambers, blood, and love,
    A heart that will one day beat you to death.


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