The Indispensible Onion
“You chopped a whole lot of onions to make goat curry,” said Campbell looking at the heap of chopped onions on the cutting board.
Campbell and Juggernaut shared a flat near the campus. Campbell, a thin, lanky guy with physical attributes that represent all the races on the island; a little bit of East Indian, Chinese, Carib Indian, African and English ancestry. His accent was pure local and his life passion was only women.
“Curry and onion go hand in hand, it is like rum and coke or scotch and club soda or steel band and calypso,” Juggernaut continued to chop more onions.
“Do you cook anything without onion?”
“No, never; onion is not a spice, it is the mother of all vegetables; any cooking shall start with onions,” said Juggernaut wiping tears from his eyes.
“Look at you, tears pouring from your face with runny nose.”
“Sure, no pain no gain; when onion is cut open the sulfides in the onion reacts with an enzyme to emit the pungent chemical ally sulfate that generates the pungent aroma and flavor,” Juggernaut showed his knowledge in chemistry.
“Whatever you say, man, after you moved in, the whole apartment smells like a house of curry,” Campbell started stirring the onions in the sauce pan.
“Do you know a severe shortage of onions once threatened collapse of a State Government in India?”
“Like the infamous Potato famine that caused whole scale emigration of Irish to America, I won’t be surprised if it were perhaps an onion famine in Indian that drove the Indians to the other countries in the last century,” Juggernaut tried to reason out for Indian emigration out of the country.
“What is the big deal with onions and Indians?”
“Indians love spicy food, onions, garlic, ginger and turmeric are the core ingredients in cooking curry; onions provide body to the gravy with strong flavor, there is nothing like too much when it comes to onions,” Juggernaut added a large spoon of garlic and ginger paste with a dash of turmeric powder to the sauce pan, before adding the meat. When all said and done, the thick tasty, yellow, spicy, gravy dominated the meat dish with little or no meat aroma.
Juggernaut on a rare visit to his old country, visited the daily market to see ‘Onion Raju’ from whom he used to buy onions. Raju was his name but everybody called him ‘Onion Raju’ since he sold only onions. His father and his grandfather before also sold only onions from the same location. The market underwent many changes, and Juggernaut had tough time to find his way to Onion Raju’s stall. Eventually, he asked a fruit vendor whereabouts of Onion Raju. “Onion Raju’s stall was relocated to another section of the market,’ said the fruit vendor and gave the directions to his stall.
“Do you remember me,” asked Juggernaut addressing an old man sitting behind a mountain of red onions.
“Sure, sir, I remember you; you look just like your father,’ said Onion Raju with a broad smile on his face.” He wore a white turban made from a long piece of white coarse cotton to protect his head from summer temperatures that can go up to 110 degrees on some days; his white bushy mustache covered part of his mouth, and his face was severely weathered from exposing to the harsh elements leaving deep wrinkles; the smell of dry onions filled the air around his stall.
“It is good to see you after so many years,” Juggernaut was genuinely happy to see Onion Raju.
“Well, your mother still visits me to buy onions, not that often though.”
“OK, what about your children?”
“Well, both my daughters are in America now studying computer science,” Onion Raju looked proud.
“I am so glad your daughters doing well in education.”
“Well, all of my life I have been selling onions and with the money saved I sent them to America to better themselves; I am satisfied that they were doing well there, hopefully they get a job and settle there permanently, you know.”
“Sure, they will get a good job and you can visit them too.”
“With God’s grace it could happen.”
“You know onions are cheaper in America than here.”
“Oh, really?” “Do Americans eat lot of onions?”
“Not really.” “Here unlike other vegetables, onions are always in demand in all seasons; how much a kilo of onions today?”
“Sir, for you it is only 60 rupees per kilo,” Raju was scratching his head.
Juggernaut knows it was over-priced and yet he bought few kilos just to satisfy Onion Raju.