How to chop an onion?April 20, 2009
Okay, here’s an embrrassing public confession. I don’t know how to chop an onion.
I mean, I know how to bludgeon an onion into enough smithereens to get away with it once it’s in the food.
Watching a trained chef chop an onion is a joy – but how do they do it? TV chefs either do it at the speed of light while chatting about their organic garden, or it’s so boring to them that they completely skip over the actual mechanics of it.
Reading about it is worse. The usual instructions always read like Sanskrit to me. “Cut the onion in half across the base (leaving a portion of root on each half – this will help keep the onion together while slicing), peel the onion and place cut side down. Make multiple cuts long ways from top to bottom but not through the root at the end.” – Huh? I can get this far, sort of, but what happens after this?
What happens to me after this is usually a desperate groping round for a tea towel to jam into my streaming eyes, while trying to hold the cut slices together and then chop them crosswise, but the onion half instantly collapses and falls all over the board, and by now I’m sneezing and crying, and then I try to scrape the bits back together before running to open a door to try to get onion fumes out of the kitchen.
Then it’s pretty much a matter of standing back, sniffing and clamping the tea towel across eyes with one hand, while simultaneously stabbing and smacking at the remaining onion on the board with the knife in the other hand, eyes tightly shut all the while in the manner of a crazed but sobbingly penitent serial killer. (I wish I didn’t have to do this. Bang. But you shouldnuh made me so angry, Momma. Slam.)
Result: a pile of raggedy smatterings of blugdeoned onion; streaming, stinging eyes and once again, an ever-deepening sense of failure.
If any of you have non-Sanskrit instructions on either the chopping or tears prevention, but preferably both, give. Please give. I can’t take it for much longer.