Mes oignons

My onionsI am here today to tell you all about onions. Mes oignons that is – mine, not yours.

Yours would not be at all appropriate. According to French wisdom, I must mind my own onions, which is to say my own business.

So here are my onions. Rather cheeky, no? There they were, all tressed up so prettily, until I started using them up and – voilà! Was inspired to take a photo that set them off in all their glory.

Ah, the onion. Such a wonderful member of the Allium family. So humble, yet so strong. Along with leeks, garlic, chives…this family is one like my own. Outspoken, atypical, memorable – if at times rather overpowering. The French favour the shallot, l’échalote, for its gentler, more subtle flavour. At least it doesn’t make me cry.

I love how the onion has all those intricately packed layers, hard yet soft, and a papery outer skin. I love its bulbousness. I love how it melts, how it browns and most of all, how it caramelizes. I love the onion in so many ways: pissaladière, onion tart, with tomatoes, potatoes, eggs, fish and, most memorably of all, cheese.

My favourite onions are red. Most often enjoyed raw, they’re also lovely on the barbeque, in a stir fry or combined with other kinds of onion. Here they are featured in one of my favourite winter dips – when it gets cold, I am a still a North American at heart.

I also love the French expression for minding your own business: Occupe-toi de tes oignons. Why onions? I looked it up and, lo and behold, there is a reason. It would seem that the French woman was first given a small measure of independence in being allowed to cultivate a portion of the garden as an onion patch, which she could then take to market and sell to make a bit of money. You can read all about it here (in French).

And let’s not forget that sometimes onions produce beautiful flowers.

Do you have a favourite onion? Or it that any of my business?


18 thoughts on “Mes oignons

  1. What’s wonderful little ditty about onions. I like the red ones too. They’re a bit more flavoursome I reckon, and a bit sweeter, and fry up well. Shame about the tears. But I can cope with that. And I agree, onion flowers are very pretty.

  2. Cheeky picture ME! Do you know the song -‘ the world is just a great big onion’? ‘Hate and fear are the spices that make you cry’? Yes, where would a cook be without onions. Decorative alliums have become so popular here – white, pink, purple, ever bigger and ?better? – but I love our ‘border’ (I’m flattering it) of chives with their little purple flowers. Edible and pretty too.

    1. Don’t know the song but can relate to the lament! We also had some lovely decorative purple alliums in our garden this year, but I love my little chive flowers too!

  3. Love, love this post. The cheeky photo, your familial metaphor and obvious love of the humble allium that is at the heart of so much good food. I love all alliums; brown, shallots, chives, leeks, red. (Except for white, they are ok but I never buy them.) I could have minded my own onions but I have always been a nosy parker.

    1. High praise indeed, Mrs. Cheer! Oddly, French recipes often call for white onions but I rarely buy them either. It’s confusing as they also call green onions white here, so I think the ones they mean are actually the little fresh ones. I need to get nosier and dig some more… 😉

  4. Sometimes, when pointlessly contemplating my navel, I wonder what ingredient I literally could not do without. It is the onion. In answer to your question – I’m generally a lady of shallot but in truth I love them all 🙂

    1. Osyth, dear, it is never pointless to contemplate one’s navel – at least I hope not or my life can be consider wasted. Shallots are also lovely and somehow more elegant. And I just discovered at the market that there are almost as many kinds of garlic as there are onions!

    1. I have never heard of them but google tells me they are strictly from Georgia, so I doubt it. That said, they look a lot like many of our onions! You must put them on the menu next time we visit!

  5. Now I wonder if the equivalent American expression, “Mind your own beeswax,” has a similar background. I always figured it was because beeswax sounded a little like “business.” But might farm women have kept bees and sold honey and beeswax candles, etc., the way French women did onions?

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