Onions have been of huge utility and consumption since ancient times. It has been regarded as a sacred food in many communities and has been considered a remedy for many diseases and sicknesses. You will be amazed to know that even the strong and powerful Pharaohs of Egypt, consumed onions in their daily diet, as they firmly believed that onions had the power to strengthen and protect them from illness.
Today, onions have become a staple ingredient in almost every cuisine around the world. It is so common that it fervently blends in any dish at the backdrop, so easily. Onions are consumed all around the world, in every country and perhaps, are the most commonly cultivated vegetable. Onions have been in existence for over a thousand years now and they started being consumed by our ancestors from time immemorial.
The best part of the onion is that apart from its consumption as a food item, it can be used in many other interesting ways too, that includes usage as a medicine, as a beauty product, as a repellant etc. It is so versatile when it comes to being used as a food item. Onions can be deep-fried to make a delicious snack, and they can be caramelized, to add flavour to a dish.
The juice of onion can provide relief from dandruff, and promote hair growth, it can also give relief from stomach ailments. Moreover, such strong are the medicinal properties of onions, that they can prevent deadly diseases like cancer. Onions are cheap and the buck of their fascinating tales does not stop just here. Onions have very good cleaning properties too. The juice of the onion can clean a barbecue grill and make it look spick and span. In short, there’s much to be discovered about our common pantry friend, the onion.
In this blog, we will uncover its superpowers. Let’s learn fun facts about the humble onion:
Around since ancient times
Yes, you read it right!! Our ancestors, cavemen, had started to eat onions when even the farming of onions was unknown. It is believed that onions grew in the wild and as such prehistoric men had access to it. It was a part of their regular food. It is thought that when these cavemen, ventured out to hunt flesh for their food, they must have tasted onions on their way and found it interesting and tasty.
The first-ever cultivated vegetable
Although we don’t have the slightest idea, as to where onions were first grown, some scientists believe that it was Central Asia, where it all began. Others refute this point, saying that it was the middle east, where onions were cultivated first. But what is known unitedly is that the farming of onions began almost 5000 years ago. Onions became an indispensable crop among various cultivars, mainly because it was quite easy to grow, easy to be commuted, easy to be preserved and easily adaptable to different types of soils and climatic conditions.
Sacred to the Egyptians
Onions were treated sacredly in Egypt during ancient times. It was an object of worship and was perceived as a significant symbol that denoted eternal life, mainly because of the layers in it. It was considered to have healing, rejuvenating and restorative powers. Art and hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt depicted the sanctity of the onion. In fact, when Ramsey IV died, his mummified body kept in the sarcophagus had onions entombed in it. Onions were even shoved in the sockets of his eyes!
Participated in the Olympics
Whenever ancient Greece organised the Olympic games, the extensive use of onions was a tradition to prepare players for gruelling competitions. These athletes were made to consume large quantities of onion before the advent of the games. They would drink onion juice and even apply onion on their bodies, in order to warm their muscles up. Because of this particular use of an onion, even today many believe that onions play an important role in increasing blood circulation in our body.
Considered a superfood
Apart from the taste and the satisfying, yet strong pungent aroma of the onion, it has health benefits that compel us to add it to our daily diet. First of all, onions have low calories, carbohydrates and fat content. They are a wellspring of antioxidants, such as flavonoid quercetin. Quercetin is especially known to promote a healthy heart. Onions also have calcium that improves our bone health and helps in reducing blood sugar levels drastically.
Why they make us cry
Have you ever wondered, why only onions make us cry and not any other vegetable? Well, all thanks to a chemical named, Syn-Propanethial-S-oxide, present in it. Also chemically known as C3H6OS, it is responsible for creating the cascade of tears while we slice, dice or chop onions. The chemical releases sulphuric acid in a misty form, which, when blended with the moisture, makes us cry and cry!!
How to stop them tears!
Certain remedies are available to help stop the tears and the burning sensation that we get while working on an onion. These include chewing gum, lighting a candle, cutting an onion under cold water, or simply putting bread in the mouth. Or even better, wear a helmet!!
A smelly aphrodisiac?
Onions can stimulate sexual desire. Yes, that is true!! Onions have the power to increase virility. In fact, in the middle ages, it was feared that if priests consumed onions, their libido would get a boost! In France, onion soup is served to newlyweds, just before they slip into their bedroom. But beware of the onion breath! There are few things that can as effectively spoil the mood!
The onion family
There are innumerable varieties of onions in the world. These varieties include the wild and the cultivated species of onion. However, some of the most commonly cultivated varieties are the pearl, red, sweet, white and yellow varieties of onion. Similarly, there are four other plants that are encapsulated in the family of onions. These are chives, shallots, scallions, leeks and garlic. All these combined together make brilliant work of exotic food and definitely are our favourites in the kitchen.
The onion factory
Almost 106 tons of onions are produced each year. China is the largest producer of onions with 27 million tons which summarizes 25% of the global supply of onions. Now, where is the onion consumed the most? Its Libya. Libyans are known to eat 68.8 pounds of onions each year, on average. Even Indians don’t eat that much!
That’s all about the onion today!