“Onions,” Friend, Oct. 1985, 22



Onions are one of the oldest known vegetables in the world.

To the people of ancient Egypt, the onion apparently was a symbol of eternity, for the onion starts out as a tiny round bulb around which grow increasingly larger layers. Many ancient Egyptian tombs were decorated with drawings of onions.

Can you imagine the president of the United States taking the oath of office with his hand on an onion instead of the Bible? There are pictures showing that this was apparently how the Egyptians made a promise. They must have believed that onions were sacred.

Onions traveled with camel caravans through dry deserts to the rest of the world. To the camel riders the onions were food, their moisture was thirst-quenching, and they kept well for a long time.

It is said that Roman generals of long ago believed that onions made their soldiers courageous. It is also said that because General Ulysses S. Grant believed that onions prevented sickness, especially stomach disorders, he made sure that there were plenty of onions for his soldiers to eat.

The onion’s strong odor makes most people cry, especially when they cut them. One favorite way to avoid this is to cut them under cold, running water. Another is to hold a piece of dry bread between your lips.

There are many different kinds of onions: white, yellow, red; Bermuda, Texas, Spanish. The ones you usually see are round or long and green. In Texas some onions grow to be the size of small pumpkins. It would take an awfully large hamburger to go with a slice of one of those!

Illustrated by Beth M. Whittaker